Monday Apr 02 2012
Roseville police warn: Don’t fall victim to scam artists
By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
Resident a target of ‘grandparents scam’
Bill Bandes was relaxing at his Roseville home recently when he received a disturbing call from someone claiming to be his grandson. “It sounded just like him,” the 80-year-old grandfather said. “And he came on the phone the same way my grandson does. I thought it was really him.” Bandes replied to the caller, “Nic? What’s going on?” The caller explained he was in Mexico with a friend and had gotten into an accident with their rental car. He said he was in jail and needed $50 right away to get out. According to Dee Dee Gunther of the Roseville Police Department, this kind of scam against the elderly is all too common in today’s day and age. “The ‘grandparent’s scam’ keeps popping up,” she said. “(Scammers) will try and trick the person into saying the name, and then go on about how they’ve gotten in trouble in some foreign place.” In this case, Bandes said he began to get suspicious and eventually asked the caller what his brother’s name was. He quickly realized the caller was not his grandson and hung up the phone. Gunther said most of the time, these kinds of calls are coming from outside of the United States, and there is very little law enforcement can do. The trick is, she said, to be aware of these scams and not become a victim. “The huge red flag is when they ask you to wire money,” Gunther said. “Because if you wire money, and the person on the other end picks it up, it’s gone. You can’t get it back.” Bandes said he immediately reported his incident to law enforcement, but very little could be done since there was no caller ID and Bandes did not get any additional information. “Thinking about it afterwards, I think what I should have done was ask him for the address where the money was to be wired,” he said. “Then authorities would have had a lead that they probably could have followed.” Gunther said Bandes did the right thing by asking the caller a personal question, and also by immediately calling his grandson afterwards to make sure he wasn’t in Mexico or in jail. “We tell people to get in the habit of talking to a trusted family member or a trusted friend before you make any big financial decisions,” Gunther said. Gunther said thieves will share information with other scam artists about people who have fallen for the schemes, people who are referred to as “good victims.” Gunther said criminals will typically start by asking for a smaller amount of money and once they realize they can get it, they will increase the amount needed. In another recent internet scam, a Roseville woman applied online for a position with “shop101” as a secret shopper. A few days later, the “employer” mailed her a cashier’s check for nearly $2,000, telling her to deposit it, keep a portion of it and to wire money for the remainder to an address in the Philippines. The cashier’s check, which was counterfeit, bounced and the victim lost the money she spent on a money gram to the Philippines, Gunther said. “I think the scammers are always out there,” Gunther said. “They are just looking for new and creative ways to get a hold of people.” Toby Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.