Monday, October 25, 2010

Beware the "Grandson Scam"

On Saturday, Oct. 23, an 84-year-old Northland woman became another victim of what our Fraud Unit is calling “The Grandson Scam.” She is the 16th person in Kansas City so far this year to fall prey to this fraud.

The woman received a call from someone who identified himself as her grandson. He told her he was in Canada and had been in a car accident. He asked her to wire him money to pay for the damage to the vehicles. He then handed the phone to someone he said was his lawyer. The woman wired almost $3,000 to what she thought was Canada, but the money was picked up in the United Kingdom. Later that day, she got a call from her real grandson, who said he was not in Canada and hadn’t asked for money.

Fraud Sergeant Rob Rickett said this scam typically involves the elderly and a scammer claiming to be a grandson or other relative who is in trouble in another country or stuck in jail and in need of bond money. The scammers will often call in the middle of the night, making the victims hesitant to call anyone to confirm the story for fear of waking people up. Victims can think they’re wiring the money to a U.S. city, but anyone anywhere in the world can pick up the money with a confirmation number. Most of this money in the Kansas City-based cases has been picked up in Canada or the United Kingdom. These scammers are incredibly difficult to find, and some countries will not allow them to be extradited for prosecution.

Please be cautious if you ever get a phone call from a relative or others claiming to be in trouble and needing money wired to them. Verify their claims. Ask for a phone number to return the call. Warn the elderly people you know about this scam, as well, as they seem to be some of the biggest targets.

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