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“Grandparent scam” targets Washington elderly again

“Grandparent scam” targets Washington elderly again

(Scams) Permanent link

If your grandchild called seeking help, would you send money? The Washington Attorney General’s Office is warning Washington residents about the “grandparent scam,” where cons posing as relatives try to convince elderly victims to wire cash to help pay for emergency car repairs, medical bills – or even post bail.

A Tri-Cities woman nearly fell for the scam. The woman received a call this week from a young man who said “Hi, this is your grandson. I’m in trouble.” The caller spun a tale about wrecking a car in Canada and said he immediately needed $3,000. In fact, her grandson was safe at home.

UPDATE: Our office also received a report from an Auburn couple who lost $4,800! Another local couple lost $1,000 in this scam, according to this KOMO TV report.

Here’s how to help detect a scam:

1. Don’t fill in the blanks for the scammer. For example:

Caller: "It's your granddaughter."
Grandparent: "Which one?"

Most likely, the con will then hang up.

2. Do whatever is necessary to confirm the real relative’s whereabouts. Call your grandchild’s home, school or work.

3. Don’t send money unless you have verified that your relative is really in trouble. If a caller asks for your bank account number or urges you to send money via Western Union or MoneyGram for any reason, that’s a good indication of a scam. Cons prefer wire transfers because they are fast, there are transfer agents in most communities and funds can be picked up in multiple locations.

[UPDATE - 1/21/11: The Attorney General's Office has repeatedly issued warnings about this scam. Below are red flags and tips to help avoid it. Unfortunately, scammers are very tough to track down. So please help continue to get the word out to your family and relatives before they become victims.]



• You’re asked to send money quickly – and secretly.
• The call or message originates from overseas. However, you should be aware that technology allows scammers to bypass caller ID systems.
• The person can’t or won’t answer questions that the only the real person would know.
• Any time someone asks you to send money by Western Union or Moneygram, it’s invariably a scam. You might also be asked to send a check or money order by overnight delivery. Con artists recommend these services so they can steal your money before you realize you’ve been cheated. Money transfers can be picked up at any service location as long as the thief/recipient has the confirmation number.

• Avoid volunteering information over the phone. Always ask callers to identify themselves by name and ask individuals who contact you to provide information that only you and people close to you would know.
• Call the friend or relative claiming to need your help to confirm whether the story is true, using a phone number you know to be genuine. If you aren’t able to contact the person, call other friends or family members to confirm the situation.
• Refuse to send money via wire transfer.
• If you have wired money and it hasn't been picked up yet, call the wire transfer service to cancel the transaction. Once the money has been picked up, there is no way to get it back.
• Trust your gut.


Posted by Kristin Alexander All Consuming Blog Moderator at 01/28/2011 05:10:15 PM | 

This is happening in WI as well. My husbands grandma just had this happen today, 9-9-08. It was the same story as the Canada car wreck.
Posted by: Rachel ( Email ) at 9/9/2008 5:18 PM

I was recently a victim of this scam because I was not aware that it existed and sent money to Toronto via Western Union. All WU offices should be advised to the details of this particular scam...any monies being directed to a Canada address should be questioned and a warning could be issued by the WU representative. That would have stopped me immediately!
Posted by: Veleda Nelson ( Email ) at 1/22/2009 9:34 AM

The Attorney General's Office successfully negotiated agreements with Western Union in 2005 and Moneygram in 2008 in which the "send forms" used to transfer money have required warnings. Here's an example of the warning:
Posted by: Kristin Alexander ( Email ) at 1/30/2009 2:50 PM

My father was victim of this scam last night. The caller told him NOT to call or tell anyone because he'd get in trouble for being in Canada and swore my dad not to let anyone know. By the time I heard about it, it was too late, the money had been picked up. The local police (IN) said there was little they could do about it because it was in International incident. They got dad for $2461. which was all he had to give them :-( [BLOG MODERATOR'S COMMENT: I am so sorry, Sheryl. I hate hearing stories like this.]
Posted by: Sheryl Lewis ( Email ) at 3/13/2009 5:31 AM

This happened to my Grandparents in Idaho today. They lost 2,200. The police in Boise said there was nothing they could do. The police in Toronto said that it was the Idaho police's business. I did a Google search and it seems like this is a huge thing, the scammers have been targeting different states and areas and the money is always getting sent to Toronto or somewhere in Canada.

My grandparents are intelligent people, and in retrospect there were a lot of red flags, but the scammers were very convincing and they couldn't even tell it was not me on the phone.
Posted by: Becca ( Email ) at 5/6/2009 9:21 PM

This happened to my former inlaws today. They received a call from someone saying they were my grandson and had been in a car accident in Canada. My former inlaws are on a fixed income and were so upset that they could not help him right away. They suggested he call me. They gave him my name and number (he knows my number but told them it got destroyed in the accident and he has a concussion and can not remember it). This male called. He said my name and told me it was [NAME DELETED BY AGO BLOG MODERATOR]. He then proceeded to tell me about the accident and how he needed help. Thank God I talk to my daughter and grandson on a daily basis and knew this was a scam. I feel so bad for my former in-laws as they were very upset. I thought this scam was going away but today proved differently. I want others to be on the alert for it.
Posted by: Doris Carlson ( Email ) at 8/27/2009 12:50 AM

This happened to my grandmother in law this morning. She was so freaked out, she called my mother in law. Luckily my mother in law keeps pretty good tabs on us and knows I wasn't in Canada.
Posted by: Mike O'Reilly ( Email ) at 10/21/2009 7:37 AM

I just found out my 80 year old mother was a victim of this scam. The caller said they were her grandaughter and my mother thought she sounded like one of her granddaughters. She sent the wire. The next time she saw the granddaughter she assured her that she sent the wired funds and it was at that time her confused granddaughter told her she has not been in Canada and never asked for money.
Posted by: Mary G. ( Email ) at 10/26/2009 12:13 AM

My father (grandparent to my son) had a similar experience. He received a call from his (grandson)..."you don't sound like X!" "I was in an accident and hurt my mouth so I don't sound the same" - amazing! My father hung up immediately. My question is, "how do these people get the information about the relationship between the grandfather and grandchild?" Thanks! [BLOG MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: John, they can guess the person's name. Or they might browse social media sites.]
Posted by: John Mayeno ( Email ) at 11/27/2009 7:41 PM

I'm so upset, this just happened to my 87 year old father in law. He's so confused and upset by what happened especically now that he knows it was a scam. I don't know how to get his money back for him.
Posted by: Michele Walker ( Email ) at 1/8/2010 12:02 PM

WE sent money also they said our Granddaughter was in jail so we did . they grandparents will do nay thing for the kids
Posted by: Donna Hill ( Email ) at 2/10/2010 4:53 PM

how can we find the scammer?
Posted by: Austin Carlton ( Email ) at 2/12/2010 3:31 PM

Just found out my dad (age 75) just got scammed out of $5,000. The caller claimed to be a grandson. Asked "Guess who I am" My dad guessed and the call went from there. The caller said he was in Canada in jail. Said he had pick up hitch hikers who happened to have weapons. Though he himself did not have weapons the police had still placed him in jail. He asked for $2,500 for bail and Later called for $2,500 for car impounding charges. My dad who is a retired minister truly believed he was helping his own grandson. The caller begged my dad not to tell anyone because he was embarrased and could only trust my dad not to say a word. My dad's "grandfather's"and "minister's" love reached out and reacted as they only knew how. I am appauled that after reading about sooooo many other senior victims, that these idiots can not be caught.
Posted by: Kathy ( Email ) at 2/27/2010 12:54 PM

My Grandfather Got A CAll around the begining of 2/10. The Scammer Said He Was The Eldest Grandson And Was In Canada In A Fender Accident, Was Drunk, Got Jailed And Needed $2400. On 2-8-10, Grandpa wired the money over. Now, a Month later I get a random call from Grandpa With Him Furious, Saying I'm Scamming The Family, Asking If I'm On Drugs, And That I'm In Denial About Everything. So Thanks Scammers, Now My Sick Grandpa Is Furious With Me For This Alleged Fraud, And Is Out $2,400. Thankfully Enough, I Have Other Family to verify that it was not me.. but grandpa wont believe he got suckered into this fraud. Im the one at blame. So I Hope Someone catches You People And You Are Thrown In Jail For LIFE. I Wish There Were Some Way To Get Our Money Back
Posted by: Reed ( Email ) at 3/8/2010 9:03 PM

My Dad was a victim of this yesterday, he called me this morning and said my son was in jail in Canada I said that's impossible I just talked to him Sunday, how did he get to Canada? The called told my Dad his friends Dad sent him and a friend the plane tickets, same story the called identified himself as Richard Cowen a the public defender he told my Dad my son had been in an accident, rear ended someone and he was drunk they told him his alcohol level was .09 they called again this morning stating they needed more money that the $2,900.00 was not enough, my Dad called me, I called my son and he was at home in California in bed still sleeping. I feel horrible my Dad was literally crying on the phone to me thinking my son was in Jail and had ruined his life. there is GOT to be something that can be done to protect the elderly this is HORRIBLE!
Posted by: Sandra Lambeth ( Email ) at 4/27/2010 11:28 AM

Southwestern PA area, south of Pittsburgh.
I almost fell victim to this very scam. According to the attorney in Quebec Canada, my grandson was in jail, due to an auto accident, which the insurance would not cover since he was drunk. The truth is, my grandson, non-drinker- is safe at school in Tennessee. My "grandson" begged me not to tell my parents, or anybody else about this, he was so embarrased. I almost fell for it.
I just received a call back from the crooks, asking me if I had sent the money-gram, they were waiting for it. I told them, i am aware this is a scam, he just hung up on me.
Posted by: Rosalie ( Email ) at 5/14/2010 12:29 PM

This scam was just tried today (10-4-2010) on me in WA state, requesting bail for my niece supposedly in jail in Niagra Falls, Canada. Luckily for me I refused until I could contact my sister-in-law who was then able to confirm her daughter was right there in town in Michigan and knew of this scam through her local paper.
Posted by: Judy L. Sear ( Email ) at 10/4/2010 2:21 PM

This scam just happened to my sister a few days ago. The male caller said he was her grandson and she had to guess which one. She gave him no information, so he said he had to go and would call her back. He never called back.
Posted by: Janet Aschenbrenner ( Email ) at 1/31/2011 11:15 AM

My mom was scamed out of $2000. The caller said he was her grandson and even knew his name. He said he was in Trinidad at a wedding and got thrown in jail. He asked her not to tell anyone and he needed the money to get out of jail. She sent it via Western Union and told me about it today. I know she is out of the money, but if anyone hears of a way to get it back email me I would love to hear about it.
Posted by: Steve Woodrich ( Email ) at 2/13/2011 4:44 PM

My grandparents were scammed this morning. Person called from Canada, same story accident, in jail. They did say to wire the money to Spain, but gave them a faulty address, which is weird to me! I also want to know how they got my info and their info...
Posted by: TK ( Email ) at 3/9/2011 12:21 PM

I had a close call, and it's still going on. My caller claimed to be at the Embassy in Lima, Peru, but asked me to send money via Western Union. All I will have lost is the money I spent calling the Lima Embassy--who confirmed the scam. They gave me the name of a "lawyer", who claimed to be in Miami, FL, but the phone number is from Montreal.
The name they gave is Larry Goldman, and the phone number is 514-690-7745. I'm not sure who else to report this to. [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: I've added some reporting resources to the blog.]
Posted by: Faye Ringel ( Email ) at 5/7/2011 8:56 AM

My 92 year old mother received an early morning emergency call from her "grandson" with an elaborate story about being several states away for a wedding, driving some people home from the party, and getting into an accident. "Don't worry, gramma, I'm not hurt bad, but they said the car was stolen and I'm going to jail unless I can post the $3800 bail now. I'll pay you back when I get back home. I don't want this to go on my record."
My mother was upset for days, keeping this a "secret" from everybody. She lost sleep, cried, and hurt for her grandson - because she did not have the money to send him. This was just an elaborate hoax as we found out days later from the REAL grandson who had no idea what was going on. Beware, everybody! So many con artists out there who think nothing of bilking senior citizens (or anyone) out of thousands of dollars!
Posted by: Jana Cudney ( Email ) at 5/16/2011 11:30 PM

My Mom in Florida was just a victim of this scam with a happy ending! Western Union has gotten wise to this scam and when the people came to pick up the money ($4,000.00), Western Union thought they were 'shady'. They called my Mom right then and asked her if she knew who she sent the money to. When she repeated the whole incident about her grandson (my son) being in jail for a DWI and knocking over a telephone pole in Philadelphia and she was sending money to the judge to release him, Western Union told her this was a scam and they told her to call her family, that her money would be returned to her. Praise to the Western Union people for spotting these crooks. I hope these scammers never get another penny out of our elderly.
Posted by: Felice Hersch ( Email ) at 7/3/2011 4:33 AM

Happended to my elderly Father in Eastern ,Wa today. Dominican Republic story--grandson. $4800. Fortunately was able to suspend the transfer and recover the money thanks to Western Union's fraud unit. It amazes me that the entire transaction took place at his local bank branch (withdraw and western union transfer) without someone from the local bank branch saying anything or giving warning. The bank's fraud unit is investigating at their end also. None the less got lucky this time and recovered the money after it was sent.
Posted by: Bill Waite ( Email ) at 7/25/2011 9:29 PM

My husbands grandmother (84yrs) was scammed last week. Same story...grandson in car accident. Grandson in jail, she needs to send $2,600 by Western Union to Montreal Canada. She was told not to tell anybody. She does not drive. She was so distraught, she tried to walk, ride the bus, etc to get to a Western Union location. In the extreme heat, she fell and hit her head. She was bruised and bleeding from two falls. When she got home, she was still frustrated that she could not help her grandson. Her husband luckly encouraged her to call a family member and they knew it was a scam. She could have seriously hurt herself, or even died from the fall or stress. We need the police or government to pursue these criminals. It is not just about the money! They are messing with people lives.
Posted by: Kathleen Lara ( Email ) at 7/31/2011 7:23 PM

My 91 year old mother, who lives in Wallingford, Seattle, was targeted August 6, by a similar story - that my son was calling and needed help. The voice said that his voice was different because he had broken his nose in a car accident taking friends to the airport - they were going to the Dominican Republic. They wanted money sent Western Union, which my mother did not do. Is there anything to do to help authorities catch these people?
Posted by: Lisa Grove ( Email ) at 8/14/2011 1:01 PM

This same scam (grandson /grandma) from
Lima, accident...couldn't leave the
country until $4200.00 was sent W.U. ...I bit...
This plus $253.00 to send....I am 77 years old &
really couldn't afford to ---- grandson was safe at
home in Virginia........I hope the crook enjoys my
hard earned money.
Posted by: Barbara Anderson ( Email ) at 10/20/2011 4:25 PM

This happened to my 93 year old Grandfather yesterday in the afternoon, the caller was claiming to be his Grandson...had his name as well. Claimed to have been at a friends wedding in Lima, Peru and was in a car accident. 6800.00 in damages. My Grandfather asked a bunch of questions then the caller hung up.
Posted by: James ( Email ) at 10/26/2011 8:15 AM

My 94 year old mom just got a call from an individual saying he was her grandson and had gone to Lima, Peru for a wedding and got arrested and was in jail and that non one in the family knew about it and would she send him $4,400 immediately. She asked him what his mother's name is and he eventually hung up but not before my mother gave him her grandson's last name.
Posted by: Shelby J Evans ( Email ) at 11/3/2011 9:09 AM

This happened to my grandmother in Wisconsin. She's 87 years old and I felt horrible just for all the panic it gave her. The person said this is your granddaughter, when she asked well which one? The scammer didn't hang up, and told her to guess and kept repeating to guess until she gave out my name, then the scammer of course agreed to it, and proceeded to start crying over the phone. It was something about how I was in Peru and needed 3 grand to post bail. She didn't fall for it though once she hung up she called me and realized it was all ridiculous.
Posted by: Sally ( Email ) at 11/23/2011 1:30 PM

This scam is discusting. The scammers called my grandfather claiming it was his grandson and asking for a wire transfer because "Johnny" was caught up in a drug cartel in Lima, Peru and needed money for a lawyer; even though "Johnny" was tested and was clean of drugs. My grandfather cleaned out two bank accounts and I have the FBI on this case. This happened right outside of Boston. If you have anymore information, please email me! Thanks!
Posted by: Haley ( Email ) at 1/7/2012 9:12 AM

Just found out this happened to my Grandma, with one click of a button and the right key words I actually wasn't surprised to find that this is a known scam.. unfortunately most of the people searching have fell for it and it is too late. This needs to be brought to the attention to more people and taken care of my W.U. I do not think a warning on the wire forms is enough, but then again why would W.U. so much as care, specially if they have no obligations to refund thousands of dollars to those who have been scammed out of hard earned money. W.U. still keeps the fee issued to the sender for sending it.. Even that
Posted by: Unknown ( Email ) at 1/19/2012 1:44 PM

Received a call from 206-319-9019 (saw latter on caller ID) from grandson who was in Peru had been in an accident and just released from the hospital with head and body injurys needing to get home needing $2000.00 as soon as possible ticket expired had no money for food shelter or to get home. Just wanted to get home homeless away from home in Peru. Asked him to call back in 20 minutes so i could figure how to get the money. Almost went for it but saw the 206 phone prefix and grandson lives in Ca. so became suspicious so did a phone check on the internet and saw this number was on Bainbrige Is. So saved myself. When they called back i just didn't answer and they never called back. Must have figured i figured it out.
Posted by: robert ( Email ) at 2/1/2012 10:05 AM

This happened to my in-laws in IL in November. Grandson was in car accident in Mexico. It just happened to my dad's 88 year old friend and his wife last night. Call from Canada, to his wife (with dementia) said she was their granddaughter and in trouble in Canada, and she would have the lawyer call to tell them where to wire the money. Their "granddaughter" asked that they not tell her husband or her parents. The "attorney" followed her call with directions on how to wire the money. They lost $1800. Western Union needs to establish a photo ID requirement as a minimum, so they can copy prior to releasing money. They also need to caution elderly when wiring money, it's the right thing to do.
Posted by: Diane ( Email ) at 2/8/2012 5:45 PM

Just got a call from an elder neighbor who was stunned that her granddaughter had just called her from Peru. She told me that the "grand daughter" played along with her questions about why she wasn't at home with her husband and kids by offering an explanation that invovled winning a trip to Peru, meeting up with two young men, going to dinner, and then getting pulled over by the police only to find out one of the guys had drugs on him. The "grand daughter" said she was facing criminal charges, was calling from the US Consulate and needed $1,700 right now. She was ashamed about the situation so she asked that the whole thing be kept secret from the rest of the family. It sounded really fishy, so I Googled the whole mess and found this page. Obviously, the scam went no where because of the Consumer Alert.
Posted by: K.Frey ( Email ) at 2/24/2012 1:52 PM

My 93-year-old Grandmother in Puyallup lost $2400 yesterday to this scam. Apparently I needed to be bailed out of a Peruvian prison! We are lucky that she didn't lose her life's savings, but we feel violated and awful for the confusion and anxiety this caused her.
Posted by: Charlie ( Email ) at 2/29/2012 5:13 PM

This scam just happened to my mother who has Alzheimer's. They wiped out her bank account. It's unbelievable that the bank did not help her when she was withdrawing so much cash. They should know the red flags as this is a known scam. This is Banking 101. It makes me sick.
Posted by: djb ( Email ) at 3/20/2012 10:58 PM

Our grandmother was targeted today using the "I am in jail and don't have time to talk. Please don't tell Mom & Dad" scam. A corrections officer then stated, "Your daughter was stopped for speeding with her friends and the officer found alcohol and drugs in the car. The kids were arrested. It will take $2400 to bail her out of jail." The address where the money was to be wired was in Belize! The phone call originated from a prefix in Peru! Thank God the Western Union clerk who was alert to the scam was smart enough not to process the wire.
Posted by: med ( Email ) at 4/12/2012 4:16 PM

This happened to my grandmother today. A person claiming to be a lawyer named Peter Morgan told her I had been arrested for drunk driving and she needed to wire me money. We live in Missouri, but he said he was calling from Niagra Falls.
Posted by: JoDee Ryan ( Email ) at 4/26/2012 5:00 PM

On August 21, 2012 at approximately 1030am I received a telephone call from someone claiming to be my grandson. My wife answered the call and determined the voice was that of my grandson. The voice did not give a name but my wife immediately said “JJ?” thereby giving him a name. She handed me the telephone .

The person said he had been in Tampico, Mexico for a week and really enjoyed himself celebrating a friend’s birthday until the night before when they crashed their rental car and now he was in jail needing $6,600 to pay for damages to the other vehicle. He said not to contact his father. He also said a lawyer would contact me about arrangements to get him out of jail.

At approximately 1115am a person representing himself as Harry Olson, an embassy employee, called and said JJ had been in an accident and the investigating police had smelled alcohol on him and when given a breathalyzer examination JJ had blown .09, just above the .08 limit. The court had been lenient and “expunged” all record of the case but JJ was on the hook for damages to the rental vehicle and to the city for damage to a “lamppost.” Olson gave his number as 438-999-8515. He also asked for my cell phone number which (like an idiot) I gave him.

I was told to send a “moneygram” from Walmart for $5,600 (not $6,600) to a Gema Castellanos Mar at Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico who would then represent herself as a friend of JJ and pay the damages. However, because money transfers to a foreign country without “conditions” must be below $3,000 I should only send $2,800 at a time. After the first transmission I was to call Olson and give him the “reference number” and after he retrieved the money he would call and I was to repeat the procedure for the remaining $2,800.

If Walmart asked who the recipient was I was to tell them that she was a friend and the money was for “funeral expenses”.

My wife called JJ’s step-mother and she emailed JJ’s cell number to me. When I called there was no answer and his voicemail was full.

I called my son and he said JJ was in Canada. He checked with JJ’s employer who said JJ was on the job.

Mr “Olson” called at approximately 1200pm and asked if things went well. I asked to speak to JJ who was supposedly being detained in the Tampico courthouse (not jail).
He asked if anything was wrong and I just repeated that I wanted to speak to JJ.

He said to wait a minute and the person supposed to be my grandson came on and said “Grampa, is there a problem?” I replied “What is your middle name?” He said Grampa is there a problem?” I said again “What is your middle name?” He started to ask if there was something wrong again but I jut told him where to go and hung up.

Pure scam and we almost fell for it. Too many little hints that it was wrong.

American Embassy is in Mexico city and there are only eight consulate offices in the country; the one closest to Tampico is 200 miles away. I can just see a consulate office driving that far overnight to see about a DWI case.

What kind of consular officer advises someone to break the currency laws.

Why would a consular officer operate through an intermediary to pay damages?

What are the odds of a court expunging DWI records because the defendant behaved in a civilized manner?

Best of all – why didn’t my grandson know his middle name?

At any rate, the scam was averted and I thought should know what happened to us.
Posted by: Mayo N. Sifford ( Email ) at 8/25/2012 11:41 PM

I work at a company that serves as an agent for Western Union in California. This is one of the newer scams, and it happens so often. I must say that the scammers got pretty smart with this one, as it's much more believeable than the old "You just won 20 million dollars in the Nigerian lottery, just send us $2900 to pay for the taxes" scam. Fortunately, our company, along with Western Union, trains our staff to be very aware of these scams. Myself alone has refused to send dozens of these transactions in the past year. Sure, the customers get pretty angry when we refuse to send their money, but 99% of them come back thanking us over and over again for saving their money. If they start by saying they just taled to their grandchild in another country who needs help, I first suggest that they call their grandcild or child immediately. I even let them use my phone. Or I'll ask for the "lawyers" phone numer. Is they are iffy on giving it to me, I say that we need it to send the money. I can't get it through my head how some Western Union agents actually let these people that are obviously being scammed go through with sending the money! We are trained on fraud prevention and taught to ask questions about any large amount. When you log onto the Western Union staton, there is a huge warning about this particular "grandparent scam". They should be reprimanded as far as I am concerned. There is a Wester Union fraud hotline that people can call if they are suspicious about something. They will help decipher if it is a scam or not, and can even look up receivers name/location and see if any similar transfers have been made to that person. The phone number is 1-800-448-1492. Please, PLEASE do not hesitate to ask questions befor falling into this evil scam! It's your money and you have every right to protect it!! It breaks my heart to know that so many people have been ripped off by these disgusting scammers!
Posted by: sara ( Email ) at 9/1/2012 12:08 AM

The "grandson is jail"" scam was just pulled on my friend
$ 2,600.00.
How do we elders spot red flags. What question s should we ask to figure out if it is a scam or not? [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: You should contact the real grandchild or family to find out if they are really in trouble.]
Posted by: Pinky ( Email ) at 10/27/2012 5:29 PM

My mother got a call last night that I was in jail after caught speeding and found drugs in my car with two other people and that she needed to send $2k to get me out. They left a number. I called the police.
Posted by: GRRR ( Email ) at 11/9/2012 8:46 AM

I also got a call frome someone claming to be my grandson and wanted money sent to canada. How can we stop this problem ith theses people doing theses terrible things to Greandparents. I guess we have to smater than the average. its a shame we have to put up with kind of scams. Luckly I did not send any money and all is well.
Posted by: carole folmer ( Email ) at 11/15/2012 11:52 AM

Two of my relative fell for this scam. My grand parents and my wife's grandparents for a total of $14000. Both of them thought I was in jail. They wired money to Peru. I hope to god I get ahold of who ever did this before the authority's do.
Posted by: Jesse ( Email ) at 11/25/2012 12:19 PM

My parents 93 + 87 became victims to this scam.It cost them $3728.They were told to send the money to the Dominican Republic via Western Union. I wish places like Western Union were notified by there company that they are forbidden to send any money to the DR for any reason.This might help in shutting
Posted by: Betty Esposito ( Email ) at 1/3/2013 6:06 AM

My mother was contracted yesterday saying her grandson was in trouble in Mexico. Wire 1800.00. Thank god that the wire did not go through and we were able to get her money back. How do we stop older people from getting scammed.
Posted by: Robyn ( Email ) at 2/7/2013 7:51 AM

My grandmother received a call from someone claiming to be my brother. Said that he was in jail for drug possession in Austin, TX and if they send $4,000 now that they will wipe it off his record.
My brother was on a road trip headed back to Seattle from New Orleans. The impersonator sounded just like my brother my grandma said and even knew my name and must have gotten information off his phone. The person also told her not to tell anyone about it. My gma was skeptical and even the MoneyGram guy thought it was a scam. When she found out my brother was in NM, she knew it was a scam and called the guy back and said she is going to call the FBI. The guy then called her back saying that "money will be back in your account by afternoon tomorrow". He claimed to be "Officer Clarkston" at the Austin Jail.

Fortunately- My grams got the $ back before it was transferred but very scary operation.
Posted by: Lisa ( Email ) at 2/15/2013 12:11 PM

this had just happened to my grandma
today in WI. they told her my brother was in an accident and was in need of money for bail because he got arrested for drugs. luckily she didnt believe it and hung up and called my brother but still this makes me sick to my stomach!!! we all hope they get arrested by authorities before we find out who did this to her!
Posted by: kaylee ( Email ) at 2/27/2013 9:16 PM

My 83 year old father was called yesterday by someone claiming to be his grandson (my son) He even called him "gramps" which my son always says. He claimed to have a broken nose from a car accident & asked "his gramps" to talk with an attorney that was with him. The attorney told my dad he needed to get 1800 to them immediately so my son could have the DUI charges dropped & no charges filed from the woman he hit. Dad did not send $ but hung up & called my son at work, but was traumatized by the experience never the less. Pass the word to all your loved ones!! These scum bags are "good" at what they do.
Posted by: Linda J Long ( Email ) at 3/8/2013 1:09 PM

this just happend to my grandmother in rochester n.y. it just so happens me her grandson was there when she got the call.
i am furious with the idioits and toattly pissed off at our government who is doing nothing about it.
Posted by: jon ( Email ) at 3/14/2013 8:33 AM

My 83 yr old mom was called today by a scammer claiming to be her son. They tried to say he was in a wreck and broke his nose and was in jail. Luckily my mom knew it was not her son. This is the 2nd time a phone scam has been attempted with my mom. Very upsetting even though they have not succeeded.....
Posted by: Lisa ( Email ) at 5/13/2013 10:49 AM

Happening in San Diego. Scammers calling grandparents about an 'accident' in Canada. Pretending to be grandchildren with lyrangitis.
Posted by: Fred ( Email ) at 5/23/2013 11:36 AM

This happened to my parents (70. & 72) just this week, 2 days in a row here in the Fresno Ca area. The caller identified himself as being my parents nephew. They even came to our house but my parents did not open the door. Per my mother there were 2 hispánic male, they parked across our home for about an hour. My parents did not call the police to report it, rhey paniked... i was like "why didnt you call the police????Worried for their safety because they stay home alone during the day. I called the police today but was told they can't do anything until they show up again...praying they stop calling or not show up
Posted by: Olivia ( Email ) at 5/30/2013 11:09 PM

I had a call today..from a skype ##661-748-0240. He said he was my grandson...but he called me Grandma...NONE of my grandchildren call me that. I talked with him for 20 minutes or so and then was passed the to Seargent at the American Embassy who was trying to get me to send $$. I told him it was a scam call and hung up. I live in Texas and the caller said he was in Lima, Peru and was stopped by the police for possession of drugs. Yes..upsetting!
Posted by: Judy ( Email ) at 6/26/2013 9:34 AM

My grandparents (aged 94 and 81) just got a call in WI today about my brother (aged 21). The caller was crying, in hysterics, said he got in a car accident and needed $3,000 wired to him immediately. The caller told them that he had"hurt his knee, would get medical attention, but that the accident had damaged the other party's car--people from Haiti, and that he needed the money immediately to give to them. The caller also said not to tell my parents' about the situation, that he wanted to tell them himself. Luckily my brother was not where the caller said he was and my grandparents reached out to my parents to confirm.
Posted by: Michelle ( Email ) at 7/22/2013 10:02 AM

On 8/2/2013 my 85 year old mother in-law got a call from a woman identifying herself as "Anna Marie Wilkins" from the American embassy in Mexico (an 800 number). We had just buried Skylers 31 year old brother who was living with Grandma less than a month ago and guess they might have gotten the information from the obituary posted on the funeral homes website. Same exact story as others, grandson Skyler was in Mexico, was drunk and had an accident that broke a young girls leg. Grandma asked to talk to him and mentioned it did not sound like him and he told her he broke his nose in the accident. She too was told not to tell anyone and not to call Skyler's mother or dad. The scammers do this on a Friday afternoon so even if you figure out it is a scam, it is too late to rescind the wire as banks are closed over the weekend. My mother in law wired $33,000. (33 Thousand dollars) at 12:30 pm on Friday afternoon. Then the scammers called back and told her to fax her bank account# and social security #. Not having a fax machine my mother in-law called my wife to take her to a bank or somewhere to fax this information before 5 pm. I was picking up takeout food for dinner on the way home from work when my wife called me to tell me she had to pick up her mother and take her to the bank and wouldn't be home when I got there and proceeded to tell me "the story". I knew it was a scam. I beat my wife to her mothers house where she and my father in-law were waiting out on the sidewalk for my wife. I asked her what was going on and she said she couldn't tell me, that she was under a gag order but that it concerned "one of our own" is all she would say. I asked to see the piece of paper she was going to fax and it was all in Spanish. I told her it was a scam and she said "I know that it isn't a scam". I told my wife not to do it, that it was a scam but she did it anyway because her mother was so insistent. I immediately called my wife's sister who has worked in banking for her entire career as does her husband. They and others spent much effort and hours Friday, Saturday and Sunday making calls to friends, connections they had, banks etc etc. No one could say with any certainty where the money was for sure. It took 10 long and agonizing days but finally got the word that the money was sitting in the banks account at the Federal Reserve. The transfer had not gone through for whatever reason. This is a one in a hundred (or more) that the bad guys did not win. My mother in-law is embarrassed and doesn't want anyone to know about this but I couldn't disagree more and believe the information needs to get out there in hopes of helping others keep their hard earned money. These people are very good, very persistent and have been getting away with it for years. I am also hearing banking laws will be changing in the very near future to help protect the elderly. I agree that our government/law enforcement does next to nothing to stop or even slow down this sort of fraud.[ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: Another example of why everyone should be weary of those who ask for personal information and money by phone or over the internet.]
Posted by: Tom Swertfeger ( Email ) at 8/14/2013 3:28 PM

I was a victim of this scam concerning my Grandson. I cost me $3800.00. I can't see how they do this without Western Unions help. [All Consuming Blog Moderator: Unfortunately it sounds you may have been the victim of an Advance Fee Fraud/Grandparent’s Scam. You can file a complaint with our office regarding this situation and Western Union on our website at or by calling our Call Center at (800) 551-4636 between the hours of 10:00 am to 3:00 pm Monday through Friday and request a complaint form be sent to you. For more information regarding Advance Fee Fraud/Grandparent’s Scam clink on this link]
Posted by: Jene Oates ( Email ) at 8/23/2013 9:36 AM

This happened to my mother in law. She received a call last week from someone pretending to her Grandson. He said he had lost control of his car and slammed into a garage of a home. The home was owned by a couple from Peru. The couple was going to press charges if she didn't send $3000 to repair the garage. They put another person on the phone that said he was with the police department and was going to hold him until the couple from Peru confirmed receipt of the money, so it would need to be send via Money Gram. She said she didn't even know how/where to send a money gram, so they got her address and told her the closest location to her home to send it. Her "grandson" imposter said to please not tell his parents, they were going to be upset and he wanted to be the one to tell them. He also said he had the money in his bank account and would send it back to her within a couple of day. They left a phone number and the number showing up on Caller ID were from Canada. This happened in Houston Texas. After we all discovered it was a scam, she was talking to a neighbor and warning them of this scam. That neighbor had been scammed of $20,000 a couple of months prior, very similar story. Always ask a question to the caller that would require a specific answer like "what is your pets name, where were your born" something like that to qualify the call. If she had done that or called the parents, she would not have been scammed.
Posted by: Sherri ( Email ) at 10/29/2013 11:04 AM

My 85 year old mother rec'd one of these calls today - from a "grandson" (who used a real grandson's name) & said he was in Ontario Canada for a friend's wedding, was the designated driver, got in an accident, 1 of the people in the car had an open container and now he needed money to pay a fine and for damage to the rental car. Fortunately, she was suspicious & told him he had to contact his parents, then the fake grandson got mad and said "Why don't you just say if you don't have the money?" and she said "I don't have it." Then he hung up. Is there a way to work w/Canadian authorities to try to catch the scammers when they go to pick up the money at a Western Union location? I worry that this won't be the last time she is targeted.

Blog Post Manager Comment (KD): While this office has worked jointly with Canadian law enforcement on a variety of cross-border issues, this office has and continues to work extensively with money transfer agents to curb the very abuses you describe. The Attorney General's Office successfully negotiated agreements with Western Union in 2005 and MoneyGram in 2008 in which the "send forms" used to transfer money have required warnings. Here's an example of the warning:

This is but one example of the safeguards that have been implemented to protect consumers as a result of these agreements.
Posted by: Patti ( Email ) at 11/6/2013 5:54 PM

I live in southeastern Virginia and I got the scam call today. They said my granddaughter was in Mexico City under arrest on a drug charge send $1347.00 for an appearance bond or she would sit in a Mexican jail for 6 weeks. Spoke to a girl who sounded just like my granddaughter on the phone. I called her home and she was safely there. Bogus granddaughter even called back to say she was being transferred to the jail from the American Embassy. Even spoke to the consulate there. All a scam.
Posted by: Gwen Gehring ( Email ) at 1/22/2014 1:23 PM

just happend to my grandparents today what do we do? is there a way we can get the money back?
AGO Blog Comment Manager (lw): Please contact our Consumer Protection Division at 800-551-4636 from 10 am to 3 pm.
Posted by: coby ( Email ) at 2/13/2014 5:20 PM

My grandparents recently became a scam of this. They received a called from a person pretending to be my brother. The person said that he had been imprisoned for weed possesion, even though I'm sure its legal down there. Anyways, they received calls from my "brother" the "police" for about three days. They people had told them not to tell the parents because the child had requested it. They came up with this whole plan on how he got the ticket and everything. So not knowing they sent in 1,800 by money wiring. Its ridiculous someone should seek to put a stop to this, the police were no help at all, I'm sure the DR embassy would want to hear about this somehow. If anyone has any knowledge on talking to reporters or any news personal, please email me, and email me your stories, I'd love for this to not happen to anymore innocent people just trying to help their family out with their best intention.
Posted by: Amanda Rollins ( Email ) at 2/22/2014 7:52 PM

Grandmother in NJ called on 2/28/2014 for 1800 dollars to Lima Peru, all these stories sound too similar, get the word out!
Posted by: Mike Anderson ( Email ) at 3/4/2014 7:59 PM

My dad received a call from this week who used my oldest sons name! But the person didn't know what my son called my father and didn't sound like my son. Nor does my son have transportation to be to have done what caller claimed. Luckily, jy dad was on his toes...
Posted by: Donna Weber ( Email ) at 5/17/2014 10:55 AM

I just got a call asking for grandma, she died over 12 years ago. Then they asked to speak to grandpa. Said it was his oldest grandson and asked not to tell his parents. Said he was in a car accident in vegas. His friends Mom paid for him to fly out there to be part of a wedding. He was giving friends a ride because they were drunk and someone in front of them was swerving and caused an accident. He has a broken nose and stitches and was arrested for drunk driving. I'm not sure it was legit. If they call back I'm getting the info and following through with getting them busted.
Posted by: Cheryl ( Email ) at 12/18/2014 12:08 PM

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