Fraud Hits Home When Families Travel During Summer, According to MoneyGram Survey
Also known as “family scams,” this criminal act typically targets elderly family and friends of individuals traveling on vacation, alerting them of an “emergency situation” and asking for immediate financial aid, sent through a money transfer, to help solve a crisis. Scammers use the phone or email to mask their identity and impersonate emergency workers, attorneys, or even family members themselves, attempting to trick the victims into sending money.
“Scammers prey on the elderly by trying to confuse them with late-night
phone calls or emails sent from accounts hijacked from their family
members. The threat of an emergency often pushes victims to act quickly
without thinking about the situation,” said
Garner noted that respondents were generally unaware of the potential
significance of posting vacation details on social media, with fewer
than 12 percent identifying family scams as their primary concern. The
Garner said the safest way to respond to a frantic phone call is to simply hang up and call your relative directly to verify the situation, or verify the identity of the person on the other end of the line or email by asking questions with answers that only true friends or family members would know. These steps often reveal the attempted fraud, preventing any further emotional distress or monetary losses.
“The safest form of prevention is to avoid social media completely, at least until after your vacation,” said Garner. “Wait until you get home to share your photos – or you may end up sharing your relative’s hard-earned money with a criminal.”
- Recognize: Savvy consumers should look for red flags when someone asks them to send money through a wire service or money order, because scammers often request these methods knowing that once the money is sent, it cannot be retrieved.
- React: When they identify a scam, consumers should immediately put an end to any transaction or conversation – hang up the phone, delete the email, or end the back-and-forth messaging.
Report: Report the suspected scam to the local police, and file
reports with the
Federal Trade Commission, National Consumers League, and Internet Crime Complaint Center (if the suspected fraud was online).
Consumers should call 1-800-
As part of the company’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers from
Mike Gutierrez, 214-303-9923