San Diego’s District Attorney Warns of “Grandma Scam”

The San Diego County District Attorney’s office has set up an entire site devoted to elder abuse prevention and awareness. The “Safe Seniors” website provides valuable tips for preventing elder abuse, contact information of all agencies you may contact if you suspect elder abuse is occurring in any form at all, and other helpful information. In particular, they have highlighted a problem which has come to light in San Diego recently that the DA’s office refers to as the “Grandma Scam.”

According the San Diego County District Attorney’s website, the “Grandma Scam” involves: “Imposters, often from foreign countries, target the elderly by posing as a grandchild in trouble and in need of cash. The caller often says that he or she has been arrested, was in a car accident or has some type of medical emergency. The caller always insists that the grandparent not tell anyone about the money transfer, which is one of the red flags. The scam is often effective because it catches seniors off guard and tugs at their heartstrings…”

“…Fight back by ensuring that your friends and family members do not become victims. Explain to them how the scam works, and encourage them to be suspicious of anyone who calls unexpectedly and wants them to wire money – especially to Mexico and Canada.” Keep in mind that financial abuse is a crime, and California is taking measures to deter would-be thieves from preying on the elderly. In fact, new laws have just passed to reinforce the fact that stealing from the elderly is a serious offense.

SB 543 was written and sponsored by the San Diego District Attorney’s office in order to make sure that stealing from an elder constitutes a “qualifying prior offense.” This means when sentencing a guilty party for conviction of theft from an elder, it may be considered a prior offense. Currently, three convictions of theft may lead future petty theft charges to be bumped to a felony. This is victory for elders as it helps to reinforce the fact that stealing from elders are viewed on par with other types of theft.

If you suspect that an elder has been financially, physically, or emotionally abused while in a long term care facility, such as a California nursing home; contact law enforcement or a reputable elder abuse attorney today. Financial abuse victims can be entitled to various compensatory damages under California law, including attorney’s fees and costs.