Here is how it works:
"Jimmy, is that you?"
"Yeah, Grandma, it's me. I'm in some trouble, and I don't know who else I can ask for help..."
Your first instinct as a loving grandparent is to reach out and help. However, the call is probably not from your grandchild. It's from a scammer looking to con you out of thousands of dollars.
In the "grandparent scam," a caller pretending to be your grandchild wil say that he or she is in trouble, ususally in a foreign country, and either in jail or a hospital. Your "grandchild" will beg you to wire money right away and to keep the request confidential. The amount of money asked for will total thousands of dollars. And if you fall for the scam you'll likely never see that money again.
This information is provided by the Wisconsin Banker Association in there "Wisconsin Banker" March 2011 edition. They have seen an increase in these scams and are trying to get the word out about them.
If you are the victim of a scam, the best thing you can do is report it. Scammers depend on your uncertainty and embarrassment at being swindled to keep the scam going. If you have any questions when contact by someone, contact your financial institution to make sure it is a legitimate deal.