Grandparents Targeted in Phone Scam

Seniors tricked to believe loved one in trouble

By Michael Gehlken
|  Saturday, Jul 30, 2011  |  Updated 1:46 PM PDT
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The victim is so embarrassed about what happened, she doesn't want us to show her face. But she does want people to hear her story.

The victim is so embarrassed about what happened, she doesn't want us to show her face. But she does want people to hear her story.

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About 10 elderly grandparents have been victimized by a telephone scam within the past week, internationally wiring as much as $3,500 to a male imposter posing as a distressed family member, Oceanside police warned Friday.

A caller has phoned senior citizens in the late evening or early morning hours, claiming -- by specific name -- to be a loved one under law-enforcement custody.

The caller requests the grandparent to send money via Western Union to his legal representation, friend, or the courts. Money, ranging from $1,000 to $3,500, has been transferred to multiple sites during the scam: Santiago, Dominican Republic; Quebec, Canada; and, Mexico.

"All the victims have indicated that the voice on the other end of the phone sounds like the voice of their loved one," said Lt. Leonard Mata of the Oceanside police in a release.

The department reported receiving about 10-20 calls or visits from seniors contacted by the scammers who did not fall victim.

Officers encourage seniors who receive such phone requests to confirm the caller's identity through such means as asking the grandchild's parents where their child is located before sending funds.

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