This is an old con that keeps morphing with the times. Before the internet, fraudsters who like this genre called your house after you left and told whoever answered that you were in a car accident or had been arrested and need money quickly.
Today this game plays out on Facebook or email – a deep pool, full of phish for con artists. The scammers hijack a Facebook account or use social media to glean the details that will sell their story to you. Then they ask for money to save the relative, friend, etc. from some horrible consequence only your money can prevent.
These scams peak around disasters. For example, during the recent hurricanes, scam artists popped up all around asking for money to help people hurt by the disaster. The scammers know you might be worried about anyone in the disaster area. And that people in disaster areas might be too busy to notice their Facebook account has been hijacked.
If you send the con artists money, they will ask for more. In fact, they will keep asking until you give up and, realize it’s a scam. This type of scam is especially malevolent because it typically preys on the elderly, exploiting their relationship with their grandchildren.