JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you’re traveling this holiday season, but won’t be near your loved ones, you may want to check-in.
An old scam is making new waves throughout Northeast Florida, scamming grandparents who are told their kids are in need. It’s known as the Grandparents Scheme.
Criminals just targeted Jannette Perkins' grandmother.
“She asked me about my vacation, and I told her I never took a trip.”
A man called Perkins' grandmother, claiming to be an attorney representing Perkins. He said she was traveling, had an accident, and couldn't call herself, but she needed money now.
“I asked if she did it and she said, ‘Of course.’” I asked how much and she told me she wired him $400.”
It's a story Valerie Norton, Manger of Duval County’s Senior Vs. Crime division of the Attorney General’s Office, has heard from many local seniors over the past month, and usually the scam-artist was successful.
“Your gut reaction is, ‘I want to help my grandchild,’ and that's that they're betting on, but this money is something you cannot get back.”
Norton says social media habits may helping these criminals. The so-called attorney knew Perkins phone number, address, family members and more, which is all information likely taken from her Facebook page.
“They do a lot of research and usually mention information that sounds familiar. They also say things similar to ways you would say them, so it sounds very real, and very serious,” says Norton.
Perkins now feels somewhat responsible, so she’s now removed all personal information from her social media accounts and is warning others this holiday season.
“I don't want it to happen to anyone who loves their family as much as I do.”