AG Brnovich Issues Consumer Advisory Grandparent Scams During COVID-19 Pandemic

PHOENIX -- Attorney General Mark Brnovich wants Arizona consumers to watch out for family emergency or “Grandparent” scams during this COVID-19 health crisis.

In these schemes, con artists call and claim to be a loved one who is in trouble and in need of immediate financial assistance. Oftentimes, another scammer will get on the phone, posing as some kind of authority figure, such as a hospital executive or law enforcement officer, and demand payment on behalf of the victim’s loved one. In past versions of the scam, when victims asked why their loved one sounded different, fraudsters would claim there had been some kind of an injury that changed their voice. Other versions of the scam have included sending text messages or emails asking for a wire transfer or gift cards.

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, fraudsters may attempt to convince consumers that a loved one is seriously ill and ask for money to obtain treatment or medicine.

General Brnovich advises Arizona consumers, especially senior citizens practicing social distancing, to be wary of anyone claiming to be a family member in need of immediate financial assistance to pay for medical expenses, groceries, or other kinds of supplies.

As recommended by the Federal Trade Commission, Arizonans should take the following steps if someone claims to be a loved one in trouble: 

  • Do not act immediately – No matter how serious the claims sound, take the time to contact someone you trust and verify where your loved one is.
  • Verify the identity of the person calling or texting – Ask questions that only your loved one could answer correctly and call other friends and family who would know where your loved one is and why.
  • Do not send gift cards, money transfers, or cash.

The Attorney General’s Office recently launched a COVID-19 webpage dedicated to providing consumers with the latest information on coronavirus scams and frauds.

If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud, you can file a consumer complaint by visiting the Attorney General’s website.  If you need a complaint for sent to you, you can contact the Attorney General's Office in Phoenix at (602) 542-5763, in Tucson at (520) 628-6648, or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at (800) 352-8431.