Grandparent scam, inventions, disputes: Your weekly ScamWatch

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Here is a roundup of alleged cons, frauds and schemes to watch out for.

Grandparent scam – On the other end of the phone is the sound of desperation. A caller claiming to be the call recipient’s grandson says he has been arrested while traveling in Mexico and needs money to be wired immediately. Only it’s a scam. And the victim’s grandson is safe. The money, however, is gone forever. The so-called grandparent scam has been around for years, but it’s recently become more sophisticated. Now, callers have names and personal information that make the ruse that much more believable. The Better Business Bureau advises people who receive such telephone calls to ask to call the person back and then confirm the stories with other family members. Victims of such a crime should contact the FBI.

Inventions – People looking to patent and market new inventions or ideas should be wary when dealing with invention promoters, the Better Business Bureau said. Some companies offering to help inventors obtain patents and market their ideas ask for substantial upfront fees but rarely are successful in turning ideas into cash, the organization said. Before making such agreements, inventors should carefully research the promotion company and consult with patent attorneys, the organization said.

Dispute resolution – The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to be careful when using a website that has charged fees for help resolving business disputes. In a news release, the organization said it has received complaints that a business operating as has charged consumers who want to resolve conflicts with businesses, only to then forward their complaints to the organization. The Better Business Bureau does not charge consumers for help in resolving business disputes and there is no need to involve a third party, the organization said.


-- Stuart Pfeifer