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Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Consumer Assistance Program Releases Family Imposter Scam Video & Toolkit

December 16, 2021

The Second in a Three-Part Series on Imposter Scams

Contact: Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

BURLINGTON – The Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) today released a video and toolkit warning Vermonters of family imposter/emergency scams—commonly referred to as the “grandparent scam.” Imposter scams continue to be among the top scams reported by Vermonters to CAP. In 2020, the family imposter scam was the ninth most reported scam, resulting in a total loss of $88,993. Today’s video and toolkit are the second to be released in a three-part series on imposter scams.

“Family imposter scams are designed to be high pressure and emotional,” said Attorney General Donovan. “By presenting an ‘emergency’ situation involving a loved one, scammers hope to catch you off guard. Resist the urge to act immediately and verify the information you’re being given by reaching out to your close contacts and organizations like CAP.”

Family imposter/emergency scams occur when a scammer posing as a relative, often as a “grandchild,” claims to be in trouble and insists that funds are needed immediately. Contacts are asked to keep the situation private, and funds are requested urgently to help resolve the emergency. Common forms of payment include wire transfers, gift cards, and cash.

“Older people, especially those who have been isolated during the pandemic, are vulnerable to bad actors who play on their sympathies,” said Ruth Wallman, board member of Age Well, who volunteered to play the role of the unsuspecting grandparent targeted in today’s video. “Perhaps this video will show that anyone can be a target and, with a little knowledge, can avoid losing their savings.”

The video and toolkit released today provide information about how to spot the family imposter/emergency scam and the steps Vermonters can take to protect themselves. These steps include keeping phone numbers for your trusted family and friends in an easy to locate place; making up a secret code to use among family members and exchange it during actual family emergencies; verifying the information you are being given by consulting with close contacts; and reaching out to organizations like CAP for help. The video also warns Vermonters to never send money to parties you cannot verify.

The “Imposter Scam: Know Your Relationships” series was made possible with funding provided by the Sears Consumer Protection and Education Fund. Additionally, CAP would like to thank Hen House Media for their production assistance and the actors who generously volunteered their time.

Here are links to the family imposter/emergency scam video and toolkit.

To report scams, complete the Consumer Assistance Program’s online scam reporting form or call 1-800-649-2424.

Last modified: December 16, 2021