Three residents received phone calls within the last week from con artists posing as their grandsons and asking for money, the Newport Beach Police Department reported Tuesday.
Police say the fake phone calls are meant to target elderly people who may be willing to wire money to help their grandchildren get out of an emergency situation. In September, two residents were scammed out of $4,000.
In many cases of the Grandparent Scam, the phony grandson was crying and said he was arrested in Canada and needed bail money. He said police took his passport and credit cards. The grandmother was instructed to go to the nearest Western Union or Money Gram and wire $2,900 to him in Canada.
Police said the grandmother recognized some red flags, contacted other family members and determined her grandson was not in Canada before she wired any money.
Tips to help avoid the Grandparent Scam:
• Do not fill in the blanks for the caller. They do not know the names of the grandchildren, but are relying on their victim to provide that information. Ask them to give their name to you. If you do not provide them any information, they will likely hang up.
• Verify the whereabouts of family members by calling other family members or the grandchild they claim to be. Do not use telephone numbers provided by the caller.
• Never send money unless you have verified that your relative is really in trouble.
• Never give out personal identifying information such as bank account credit card account numbers to anyone you do not know. Keep in mind with the many sources of public information at their fingertips, these con artists can easily find out basic information about people and use it to their advantage. They may read obituaries, go into social networking sites of the Internet, or use other sources to find out just enough details to pull off their scam.
Remember! Once the money is sent by a wire transfer, there is no way to stop the transaction. If the money is sent to a foreign country, U.S. authorities have no jurisdiction to pursue the matter. Authorities rarely, if ever, recover the consumer's payment.