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Grandparent Scams are on the Rise

By Cathy Ehnen


Your phone rings - an unfamiliar number flashes on the screen. It seems local, so you answer. To your shock, it's your granddaughter, crying and panicked. She's in trouble - a serious accident in another state, an arrest, and now she needs your help. $9,000 for bail, she pleads.

She insists on secrecy, citing a "gag order" from the judge and to tell the bank that you’re remodeling your kitchen and that you’ll be using it to pay your contractor. Suspicious, the bank asks for the name of your contractor and what you’ve done to the kitchen.

When you fumble over your answers, the bank sends you to their fraud specialist, where you hesitantly tell the whole story, only to be told that you nearly fell victim to grandparent fraud- an increasingly powerful scam. The shocking truth unravels - it's a scam.

A Real Threat in Our Community

Believe it or not, this scenario isn't fiction. It's a real example of the growing menace of grandparent scams, made more convincing with advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to the FBI, grandparent scams targeting those over age 60 alone accounted for a loss of over $3B in 2022.

The Scammers' Playbook

How do these fraudsters know so much? Social media is their goldmine. Details about your family are easily gleaned from platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Scammers craft believable stories, exploiting your love for your grandchildren. Even more alarming, AI allows them to mimic voices, adding to the deception.

Staying One Step Ahead

Facing these scams can be overwhelming, but FSB's Fraud & Security Specialist, Cathy Ehnen, offers vital tips to stay protected:

  1. Verify First: Always call your grandchild or another relative to confirm their situation before acting
  2. Question Urgency: Be wary of pressing, urgent requests - Pause and evaluate the situation critically
  3. Avoid Unsafe Payment Methods: Never use cash, gift cards, or Bitcoin ATMs for such transactions
  4. Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date on fraud trends - Awareness is your strongest defense against evolving scam tactics

Scammers prey on emotions. By staying informed and vigilant, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from these sophisticated and harmful schemes.

For more information on fraud, along with additional security resources, visit

Meet Cathy

Cathy Ehnen - Headshot

Cathy began her career at FSB 33 years ago, working the first 25 years in Retail Operations and the last eight years in the Fraud department. Cathy attends multiple seminars annually on banking fraud and security and has a strong network of contacts with local FIs and law enforcement. Cathy considers her role at FSB to be the first line of fraud prevention for customers and the bank.

Questions about fraud related topics? Contact Cathy today!

Call 319-730-6970
This email is not secure, please do not include sensitive financial information.

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All FSB Branches will be closed on Monday, May 27, in observance of Memorial Day.

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