“Grandma, this is not your grandchild... Be careful” is an educational campaign prepared by the City of Warsaw and aimed at older people. It addresses the problem of fraud attempts known as “The Grandchild Scam” or “The Policeperson Scam”, or involving other similar scenarios.
Size of the problem
Even though this campaign, and meetings with older people, have been conducted for several years now, and although public awareness seems to be growing, fraudulent acts like “The Grandchild Scam” or “The Policeperson Scam” continue to be a real threat for many older people.
In 2019, Warsaw’s Police Headquarters had 461 reports of such incidents, and 362 of these fraud attempts were successful, resulting in more than PLN 20 million worth of damage. Offenders who try to trick older people using “The Grandchild Scam” have operated in Warsaw for about 15 years. While many of them have been caught by the police, new victims continue to come forward.
The typical scenario
Scammers call an elderly person’s home number, pretending to be a member of their family. But after a moment, they hang up. And they immediately call back. This time, the scammer poses as a policeperson, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBŚ) officer, or a Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) officer.
The scammer convinces the victim that they are investigating a criminal organisation, and asks the victim for help – more precisely, to give them some cash (for the purposes of their operation).
Doctors to help spread awareness
Services, local governments, and other institutions are trying to reach as many places frequently visited by older people as possible. Churches, banks, and senior citizens’ clubs are just a few places where similar campaigns have already been launched.
This year’s campaign entitled “Grandma, this is not your grandchild... Be careful”, which is to start on the Grandmothers’ and Grandfathers’ Days (21 and 22 January), is to be targeted at older people visiting outpatient clinics (SPZOZs) in Warsaw. During visits at doctor’s offices, the doctors who have joined this initiative will be handing out information packs to their senior patients. These will contain some useful advice to warn the elderly against scammers.
Similar to the police, medical professionals enjoy public trust. We hope those packs from doctors, who will also put their prescriptions and written recommendations there, will be an effective way to spread awareness among our senior citizens.
Raising awareness for many years
This is yet another edition of the campaign. The first one, organised together with Warsaw’s Police Headquarters, took place in October 2014. Given the widespread interest among local residents, the campaign has been continued ever since.