BBB: Idaho woman loses $8,000 in grandparent scam

Posted at 9:03 AM, May 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-22 11:03:45-04
The Better Business Bureau warns of grandparent scams affecting Idahoans. BBB's Emily Valla says one Idaho woman lost $8,000 to a scammer, after she thought she was helping a family member over the phone.
"In this case, the caller claimed to be her grandson-in-law, who had supposedly gotten pulled over with a friend who had drugs. Through tears, the “grandson” explained he’d been arrested and was going to be transported to Pennsylvania unless someone could post bail," Valla said.
The woman said the voice on the phone sounded exactly like her grandson-in-law, and the caller claimed to be in the Salt Lake City area, where her real family members live.
"The scammers had done their homework. The “police” provided names, badge numbers, and took great efforts to make the situation sound legitimate," Valla said.
"Supposedly, the grandson could be freed and keep a clean record if he could come up with $8,150. There was one other condition, the deal had to be kept strictly confidential. The woman told us she knew the rest of the family probably couldn’t come up with the money, so she sent it. She said she was so emotionally stressed she didn’t think it through. That’s exactly what scammers want, an emotional response with little time to think," Valla continued.
Valla says the woman sent the money as the scammers instructed: cash spread out inside several magazines, so the post office “wouldn’t get suspicious.”
"She said she felt uneasy, but the situation seemed so urgent and rushed, there wasn’t time for questions. The next day, she received a call that the money had been received, but the officers had found more drugs, so he’d need another $8,000. That’s when she spoke to another family member and cleared things up," Valla said.
To not let this happen to you, BBB advises families to have conversations about what to do if they get these sort of calls. Decide who they can call to verify and clear up confusion.
"Be careful about providing information if you do pick up the phone. Scammers try to pull basic information out of you, like your grandchild’s name, age, or hometown, to make their stories seem more convincing. Remind each other to never send money to strangers via prepaid card, wire transfer, or cash, no matter the story. These methods are untraceable, and like in this story, gone for good," Valla said.
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