Scam takes advantage of loving grandparents

Scam takes advantage of loving grandparents

CREATED Sep 7, 2012

Reporter: Corinne Hautala

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – A scam circulating the nation, targeting grandparents, has made its way to Tucson.

A Tucson grandmother sat down with 9OYS to share her story of how she nearly fell victim to this crime, which takes advantage of the love grandparents have for their grandchildren.

She doesn’t want to be identified, since she’s afraid the scammer might harm her, but said she wants to share her story in hope of protecting other vulnerable grandparents.

In June, she said she answered a call from someone she thought was her grandson.

“He said, ‘Grandma, help me,” she recalled the phone conversation.

She said the man on the other end of the line, pretending to be her grandson, said he was in Mexico and in trouble.  He needed her to wire him $2,300 or he’d be thrown in jail.  She said he even gave her a 1-800 number for her to call when the transfer was complete.

The caller told her to “do it quickly” and not to tell anyone.

“I asked my grandson, ‘did you call your dad and he said oh no don't tell anyone.’”  

While her grandmotherly instincts told her to wire the money to save her grandson, something told her to first contact her grandson’s stepmother, her daughter.

Her daughter, she said, immediately advised her that her grandson wasn’t in Mexico and it was a scam.  Her daughter called the 1-800 number and spoke with the man who answered.

We asked the near victim what the man said to her daughter.

“Well he told her he was going to kill me and come and kill her and he had our names and addresses.”  

A terrifying threat, that Pima County Deputy Tom Peine said is part of the classic scam they have coined, the grandchild scam.

“They're very slick in what they do and they're very driven,” said Deputy Peine.  “They put a lot of pressure on whoever receives this type of call.”
Deputy Peine said often the phone numbers are untraceable, because the scammers spoof phone numbers and use disposable phone

As a grandmother, who almost fell victim, the Tucson woman says the scammer really pull at a grandparent’s heartstrings.

“Because grandparents, you know, we're trusting people,” she said.  “We want to believe the good. We want to help.”

Police say there are a few red flags to look for in this scam.  
    The caller typically says they’re in another country
    The caller often says not to tell anyone
    The caller won’t say the grandchild’s name, but will often start with “Grandma it’s me!”