3OYS consumer warning: 'Grandparent scam' alive and well

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- It's called the "grandparent scam," and scammers are getting away with millions of dollars thanks to the generosity of our senior citizens.

"This is Jenaevia, she's now 21, and my youngest, Jada," Nakisha Anthony said as she showed 3 On Your Side photos of her two daughters.

Anthony says it seems like yesterday that her daughters were kids, but now they're growing up.

"One is at U of A and one goes to school here at Mountain Pointe," she said.

As Anthony took a walk down memory lane, she showed 3TV one family photo she particularly loves.

“This is my mother Valerie, my great grandmother Florence, and this is my grandmother Josephine," she said.

Anthony recently received a call from Josephine, whom she described as a 76-year-old spitfire.

But Anthony said she didn't expect to hear the panic or the news that Grandmother Josephine was about to tell her.

"Jenaevia has been in an accident," she told Anthony. "You have to call these people. They called me. They're asking for money. I wanted to call you first to see if you even knew about it."

But Anthony said she had just talked to her daughter moments earlier, and her daughter was not involved in an accident at all.

It was then that Anthony realized that her grandmother was almost the victim of a scam.

"Whoever this was, was acting like they were my daughter," Anthony said. "Kind of like crying, just kind of that sob story, you know, 'I need help. I need help. I need money; can you send it?' "

It's a common ploy known as the "grandparent scam," where someone will call a senior citizen and pretend to be a family member in desperate trouble.

The caller will then ask for that person, usually a grandparent, to wire money immediately to get him or her out of the predicament.

Anthony said thank goodness her grandmother didn't wire the money, and she wants to warn others about the scam.

"Staying aware and really communicating and asking as many questions as possible," she advised. "I'm just over it. I realize it's the holidays, but, you know, we want to enjoy this time."
   
If you're thinking no one would ever fall for this scam, think again. A Pennsylvania grandmother recently lost $14,000 when she was duped.