Social Engineering Grandparents Scam
Social engineering is all about abusing the trust one has on others. And recently online phishing attacks conducted with the intention of stealing money from the victim makes use of social engineering procedures which include scamming senior elders of a family, who are more likely to fall for these tricks.
In summary, attackers are making use of social media to pick out relatives specifically grandparents of an online member and then pretending to be the grandchild, asking for money from the grandparents to get out of some criminal hassle they are in. Generally youngsters in the 15-22 age group are targeted. Attackers crawl social network profiles with the intention of identifying a young character linked to a grandparent who is closely connected to or concerned with.
The attacker will call the grandparent and pretending to call on behalf of the grandchild, who is supposedly in “Police Custody“ for a crime and make the grandparent talk to a fake officer. Another member of the gang then pretending to be a police officer gets on the telephone and identifies a drug related crime that the grandchild is being charged with and that the grandchild is afraid to contact their parents.
Subsequently, they get the fake grandchild at the cellphone, who comes on the phone with a muffled voice requesting assistance and not to inform their dad and mom. The fake police officer then talks back to the grandparent and agrees to exonerate the grandchild without further charges, provided they grandparents transfer the bail amount to a Bank of America or Wells Fargo account the same day. And in most instances, the grandparents agree and make the payment without thinking twice of the situation, only to learn later they have been scammed.
The modus-operandi of this scam is generally as follows:
- The tone of the call is to get the grandparent in a highly emotional situation of protecting their grandchild.
- The call mentions the consequences of not making the payment, possibly incarnation of the grandchild or a hefty bail amount.
- The amount being demanded is not more than 10,000 something they may reduce if pushed back.
- The wired amount is immediately removed and untraceable.
The only way to be protected from such scams is to be educated about it and not rush into making the payment.