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Elderly targeted in phone scam that backfires

An unhappy grandmother called the Highland County Sheriff's Department in Hillsboro, Ohio, to inform them she was not happy with the treatment of her grandson upon his arrest.

On August 15, 2014, an officer at (HCSO) took the call from the angry grandmother wanting to know why they were not feeding and taking care of her grandson who was locked up in jail.

After listening to the grandmother's complaint Lieutenant Chris Lengefield found the whole situation odd. Soon he knew she was a victim of an elderly phone scam used to target older people into sending money thinking they were helping a family member. The officer explained to the lady that she was victim of a phone scam and that her grandson wasn't in jail.

Elderly phone scams target vulnerable people every day, a Knoxville woman lost $10,000 of her life savings after telling her that her grandson had been in an accident and needed money. He was in Air Force training so she complied and wired money. They called her several more times adding to the damage and fines until she had paid much of her savings.

Lengefield says the caller addressed her as grandma and she asked who it was and he answered by saying you don't know who I am. That is when family members often guess which family member it is and fill in the details.

When the grandmother questioned the scammer about not sounding like her grandson, he says he has been fighting a chest cold all week and tells her what happened to land him in jail and how much money he needs to get out.

He explains that he got a ride and the driver had cocaine in the trunk which he had no idea about and he was arrested and needed money to get out of jail. Adding that he is innocent and hungry and the deputies won't feed him and it has been hours.

Grandmother then offers to help and he says, "I need you to put $500 on two Green Dot Money cards and call Officer Baker at

(438) 928-####."

The convincing male, gave her the Sheriff's Office address and the officer's badge number. Lengefield said, “Grandma then called me to yell at me for not feeding her grandson. I'm thankful she did, because it was determined to be a scam attempt. Her grandson was not in jail and the phone number the male used originated from another country.”

If grandma had put cash on the cards and gave the numbers to the scammer the criminal would then own the card and money on them; leaving her worried about her grandson, and $1,000 missing from her account. This time the scam artist targeted the wrong grandmother and fortunately, she was angry and skeptical enough to call the Sheriff’s Office.

The HCSO advises anyone receiving a suspicious call such as this to call local law enforcement officials. Officers do not use credit card information, Green Dot money cards or wire transfers to get someone out of jail. The officers would not mistreat inmates while being held after an arrest, if you get this type of call, be sure to return a call to the local Sheriff’s Department to report it. Caller I.D. will show when a law enforcement office is calling and will include a local number. It is best to always call back to make sure the call is legit.

There are many money scammers and identity thieves’ who will do anything to get their hands on your money. Knowing what kind of scams are going around is your best defense says the HCSO. And not all scams are by strangers, at times a caregiver, family member; friend or neighbor will isolate a senior from others and take advantage of their money and property.