College parents targeted by this scam

By Greg Collier

Parents of college students are being targeted in a new scam, but it’s actually an old scam with new targets. It’s more infamously known as the grandparent scam. As you may know, that scam targets the elderly, with scammers trying to convince their victims that one of their grandchildren is in trouble. Often the scammers will claim to be the grandchild. It’s all done to try to squeeze money out of the victims disguised as bail money or some other legal fee. Meanwhile, the grandchild is safe and unaware they’re being used in a scam.

As you can surmise by the headline, some scammers have decided to target a new demographic, but it’s still the same old scam. Now referred to as the emergency scam, scammers are calling college parents and telling them their child has been arrested. The scammers then ask for bail money that needs to be paid through apps like Venmo or Zelle. With a student possibly being states away from their parents, this could put the parents into a panicked state where they’re not thinking clearly. This is what the scammers are hoping for, so parents don’t have time to logically think about the situation.

So, how do scammers know which parents to target? Social media, of course. The scammers look for college students on social media, and from there it’s usually not hard to find the student’s parents.

It also doesn’t help that scammers are now using AI-generated voice cloning technology to imitate the voices of students. If a student is active on social media and have posted videos of themselves, it’s not difficult for the scammers to get a sample of their voice to use in their schemes.

However, if you’re aware of the scam, it’s easy to beat. Even if it sounds like your own child is telling you they’re in jail, be suspicious. Instead, attempt to contact them directly, either using another phone or text message. You can also call the police department where they’re supposedly being held. And keep in mind that bail is never paid through payment apps, gift cards, cryptocurrencies, or money transfers. Setting up a code word with your child that’s only to be used in the case of an emergency will also go a long way in protecting your family from this scam.