Grandparent Scam strikes Ramona

By Jessica King

Scammers playing on the heartstrings of grandparents have struck in Ramona twice in the past two weeks, robbing victims in each case of well over $4,000 apiece, authorities said.

The so-called Grandparents Scam involves the perpetrators calling up grandparents and telling them their grandchild is in trouble. They say the grandchild is stuck in Mexico or another destination and needs bail money or other funds to pay for such things as car repairs or accident fines, said Crime Prevention Specialist Barbara Wallace with the sheriff’s Ramona station.

Sometimes the crooks say the grandchild is unavailable to talk or they put someone on the line pretending to be the grandchild, but the person speaks in a whisper so it’s hard to tell if they are who they say they are.

“Basically, they’re taking advantage because sometimes seniors have hearing issues,” said Wallace.

According to Wallace, once the perpetrators have their victims’ attention, they instruct them on how to wire large amounts of money to “help their grandchildren.”

“We need to get the word out to remind people not to let their emotions overrule their common sense,” she said.

Wallace advised that anyone receiving such a call immediately double-check with their children to see where their loved one is, and not to fall for any lines about how their “in trouble grandchild” doesn’t want mom or dad to know.

Wallace also said don’t be fooled if the scammer knows specifics, including the grandchild’s name, place of residence, parents’ names and interests. All of that information can be easily obtained online nowadays, said Wallace, noting social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Once a target of the scam wires money and the funds are picked up, there is little to no recourse because the perpetrators are difficult to track. However, Wallace said victims could make a difference by reporting the crime so law enforcement can warn people.

“One of the biggest problems with crimes against seniors is they get embarrassed and may not report it or wait to report it because they’re afraid of what people will think,” she said.

   
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