Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Emergency Scams

Emergency scams usually target grandparents. Someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a grandchild in trouble and urges the victim to wire money immediately to help with an emergency. The emergency may involve getting out of jail, paying a hospital bill, or returning from a foreign country. Emergency scams play on the emotions of seniors in an attempt to rob them of money. Though the caller usually pretends to be a grandchild, they might also pretend to be an old neighbor or family friend.

The caller typically requests that the money be sent through a money transfer company. The caller will often claim to be embarrassed by what has happened and will ask the victim to keep the assistance secret from other family members. Many victims fail to verify the story with other family members or friends until it is too late and the money has been sent.

Protect Yourself from Emergency Scams

  • Never send money to anyone you do not know and trust. Confirm the person’s identity before taking any steps to help.
  • Ask the person questions that only your loved ones would know and be able to answer.
  • Before you send any money, verify the story with someone else in your family or circle of friends.