SAPD Crime Prevention Unit Warns of Recurring Scam Targeting the Elderly
Since March 2012, there have been 9 cases reported with an aggregate amount of more than $32,800.00 dollars scammed from elderly persons.
The San Angelo Police Department is issuing a Scam Warning Message to educate the public on this trend. Here is an example of the scam which is commonly referred to as the “Grandparent Scam”.
85 year old victim advised he received a call from a subject who identified himself as an attorney who was representing his grandson. The subject told the victim his grandson had recently been arrested in Canada for a DUI offense and asked the victim to send $978 by Western Union immediately so his grandson could get out of jail. The victim then spoke with another subject who claimed to be his grandson. During the conversation, the subject asked the victim how his wife was. The victim thought this was strange because his spouse had been deceased for a few months. After sending the money via Western Union, the victim eventually made contact with his grandson to verify his release from jail and found the entire thing had been a scam.
Sometimes the scammer claims to be in Mexico and the grandchild has been involved in an accident and needs money to cover damages and travel expenses home. The scammer threatens if the money is not sent immediately; the child will be turned over to Mexican authorities. If the victim does send the money, the scammer calls back and asks for more money to cover additional travel and food expenses back to the United States.
The scammers often have convincing information about the grandchild such as school information and pet names for the grandparent or child. This information is often found through Facebook, other social media sites and public sources. In another report, the victim did not know the name of the grandchild who was supposedly calling. When the victim asked the caller which grandchild it was, the scammer asked, “Which one do you think?” The victim responded with the name of one of their grandchild and in turn, the scammer used that name during the duration of the call.
The SAPD Crime Prevention Unit has some simple tips to help keep you from becoming a victim to one of these scam calls;
NEVER fill in the blanks for the scammer: If the person on the line says, "It's your grandson," do not reply by offering a name; instead say, "Which one?" Make them provide additional information about your grandchild, most likely, the con artist will then hang up.
CONFIRM your grandchild's whereabouts: Call their home, work, school, parents, and friends. Find out their actual location before offering financial help. Get a call-back number and tell them you will call back after you check the validity of the caller.
NEVER send money unless you have verified your grandchild’s location: If the caller asks for your bank-account number or urges you to wire money to him or her, it's likely a scam. Con artists prefer wire transfers because they are fast, there are transfer agents in most communities, and funds can be picked up in multiple locations.
CONTACT the parents: If their child is in trouble they need to know, even if the caller asks you not too.
NEVER give out your bank account information or credit card numbers to anyone over the phone when you did not initiate the call.
The San Angelo Police Department is asking you to please share this information with your grandparents, other family members and friends. This scam and variations of this scam are not just being used in San Angelo, but across the United States. It can be difficult if not impossible for these cases to be investigated because the money is sent out of the country. Local law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to investigate these crimes and the federal authorities cannot investigate because the monetary value is below the established threshold.