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SCV deputies warn of 'Grandma Scam'

Posted: March 23, 2009 9:05 p.m.
Updated: March 23, 2009 6:53 p.m.
A recent case of "Grandma Scam" in the Santa Clarita Valley has prompted SCV Sheriff's Station officials to issue a warning regarding a money transfer scam designed to prey on the emotions of senior citizens for money.

In a recent Castaic case, an elderly female was contacted via telephone by a young man who claimed to be her grandson. He said he was in an accident while driving a rental vehicle to Reno and he needed his grandmother to transfer or wire money through a MoneyGram at the local Wal-Mart store.

The caller claimed he had rented the car without insurance and now needed the money to pay for the damage. The same man called back the second day requesting another MoneyGram for his friend who was driving the car. The unsuspecting grandmother sent more than $4,800 over the course of two days without verifying any information or asking enough questions.

Sheriff's officials would like to remind all residents about the prevalence of these types of money transfer scams. They can range from simple requests to elaborate claims, schemes and scams.

Generally, the "Grandma Scam" occurs when a grandparent receives a call from a person claiming they are their grandchild. They tell the grandmother or grandfather they are in some kind of trouble, usually an automobile accident, are in the hospital or are under arrest and need bail money.

They generally have the grandchild's name and are quick to answer questions. The caller usually begins the conversation by saying, "Hi, Grandma, it's me, your favorite grandchild." The caller then goes on to make a pitch about being in trouble and in immediate need of money. Many times they claim it is the only call they are able to make.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station and other authorities encourage family members to explain this type of scam to elderly people. Tell them to hang up if they receive a call like this or, at the very least, to verify with other family members prior to sending or wiring any money, even if the caller asks them to hurry and please not tell anyone.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station advises all residents to avoid falling victim to these types of scams by following a few simple guidelines:
-- Be wary of appeals that tug at your heart strings, especially pleas involving a loved one in trouble.
-- Ask specific questions and obtain addresses and telephone numbers - then verify it.
-- Be leery of anyone asking you to immediately transfer money.
-- Do not provide any credit, bank or other personal information until you have verified the caller's claim.
-- Call a family member or local authorities immediately.
-- Remember, avoid rushing to send money. Take your time and verify where it is going!


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