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Thieves phone scamming Grandparents

Posted in Crime Prevention December 10th, 2008 @ 10:55 am

This is no childish prank that has been done in the past. You know the type of phone calls kids make; “Is your refrigerator running? Well go catch it!” These alleged “grandchildren” are calling elderly people, grandparents, and scamming them out of their money.

One South St. Paul woman reported to police that she received a call from someone pretending to be their 25-year-old grandson calling them and asking them to wire money to Canada. His story was that he was at a concert in Canada and got into an accident after a couple of drinks. He told the woman that he needed $4,200 for a rental car or else he would be charged with drunken driving. This poor woman sent him the money but then the swindler called the next day and said he needed an additional $3,200 because he hurt his knee.

That’s when the woman realized something was wrong. She told her husband and they called the police. Unfortunately, they couldn’t catch this low-life criminal. What is amazing is that the caller knew details about her grandson such as the concerts he liked and pronounced his name a certain way. She finally was able to contact her real grandson and he asked her later why she didn’t call his parents to check out the story. Being a good grandparent, she told him that she didn’t want to get him in trouble with his parents and just wanted to help him out.

What type of low-life preys on the emotions of grandparents?

Fortunately the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has posted a bulletin on its website about grandparent scams and offers the best advice on how grandparents can protect themselves from phone scams such as this one.

If you get a call saying, “It’s your grandson/granddaughter”, ask them “Which one?” Chances are they will hang up immediately. Finally, always verify the caller even if you say I’ll call you back. Don’t get the phone number from them but use the known phone number of your grandchild. And don’t be afraid to check with their parents to verify their story.

If you receive a call like this, contact your local police department or state attorney general’s office.

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