GREENSBORO, NC – The phone rings, you pick it up and stare for half a second at a strange number. You answer and the voice on the other side tells you they have some bad news. Your loved one has been arrested and they need you to send them money immediately.

Hoping to save the day, you might head to a store to purchase a gift card, because that’s what the voice on the other side of the phone tells you to do. But, low and behold, that voice is coming from a scammer.

Sounds far-fetched, but it happens and one woman fell victim to this scam in Greensboro. Someone called her and said her son was in an accident and she needed to send $4,000 to help him out. Worried, she went to a nearby Target, as instructed by the person on the phone, and purchased a $4,000 gift card.

But, luckily, her actual son called her soon after. After the victim, wishing to remain anonymous, explained what happened to the store manager, her money was quickly refunded.

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The outcome could have been different. Target Corporate called this one of their common scams, known as the Grandparent Scam. Several stores, including Wal-Mart, CVS and others, have heard of the scam.

Someone calls and pretends your loved one is hurt, arrested, kidnapped, and then the victim is instructed to purchase a store gift card and give the scammer the gift card number over the phone.

A spokesperson with Target says they train their employees to spot, stop and help the victim. In this case a spokesperson said, “We’re certainly proud of our team for their role in helping to stop this scam and help the guest.”

How do you avoid becoming a victim? If you don’t know the phone number, don’t answer. If it’s important, they’ll leave a voicemail or call back. If someone tells you a loved one is hurt or was arrested, call them to check. If the person on the other side of the phone becomes aggressive with you, hang up and report the scam to the police.

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