Crooks Tap Grandparents for Fast Cash

October 13, 2008

Could you refuse a grandchild in trouble?

Crooks are banking that you can’t say no with a fast cash scheme, dubbed the “Grandparent scam,” sweeping the country.

A Dixie County man fell for the scam last month, sending a $3,100 MoneyGram to help his “Grandson” out of a jam in Canada. His money and the imposter were gone a few minutes later.

The senior citizen, a man in his late 70s, is embarrassed and doesn’t want to talk about it. And, relatives are scrambling to make sure the crook doesn’t access to his bank account.

Here’s what happened:

A man called asking for Grandpa. The elderly Dixie County man identified his real Grandson by name, repeating his name, “Joe.” It was all the imposter needed.  He had his victim hooked.

The caller told “Grandpa” that he was in Canada for a friend’s wedding and after a few drinks had been in a car accident in a rental car. The caller explains a judge said the incident won’t go on his record provided he pays $3,100 in court fees,  adding the charges need to be paid before he can go home.

“Joe” asks Grandpa to send the money right away and not tell his mother. The Dixie County Grandpa withdrew the money from his bank, purchased a MoneyGram at WalMart and wired the money. When “Joe” called back, he gave him the reference number to the MoneyGram.

With the reference number, the money can be picked up anywhere.

His real Grandson wasn’t missing, wasn’t in Canada and wasn’t in a car accident.

“This is just the latest variation. It’s just a little different than so many others because it plays off the harp strings,” said Ed King of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. “By the time the victim learns it’s a scam, the money’s long gone.”

Here are some tips to protect yourself.