Friday, November 20, 2009

'Grandma, I'm in jail and need bail money' scam targets seniors

In recent weeks, Yavapai Sheriff's deputies took two reports of a telephone fraud targeting seniors. A caller contacts an older person claiming to be his or her grandson and shares a believable story of an involvement in an accident or criminal incident in Canada and subsequent arrest. The "grandson" asks for money to post bail and then puts a person on the line, supposedly a bail bondsman. The bondsman provides the bail amount, usually several thousand dollars, and requests that money be wired using a MoneyGram or Western Union service. In some cases the bogus "bondsman," even calls back to thank the victim.

Both Yavapai County victims were suspicious and did not send any money.

This scam appeals to the emotions the elderly who feel an immediate need to help a desperate family member. Stories range from an accident to a situation in which the "grandson" picked up a couple of hitchhikers found with drugs during a traffic stop.

Many suspects use social networking sites, such as MySpace or Facebook, to identify family members through profiles and photos. A check of online phone directories provides a telephone number and the scam is under way. In some cases, suspects find travel plans and give specific family information that makes the scheme more plausible.

Read more here

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