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Deputies warn of scam

Castaic grandmother reports con man bilked her out of more than $4,000

Posted: March 24, 2009 2:07 a.m.
Updated: March 24, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's deputies are warning residents about money transfer scams after a Castaic grandmother reported on Monday that a con man under the guise of her grandson bilked her out of $4,800, Sgt. Dan Peacock said.

The con man contacted the elderly Castaic victim by telephone on Thursday and claimed to be her grandson, Sgt. Darren Harris said. The con man said he was in an accident while driving a rental vehicle to Reno and needed his grandmother to wire him money, he said.

"There have been several reports of this type of scam this year. In the other cases the con man didn't convince the elderly target to transfer the money," Harris said.

The caller told the victim he rented the car without insurance and now needed the money to pay for the damage.

The suspect called back the Friday requesting another money transfer for his friend who was driving the car, Harris said.

The unsuspecting grandmother sent more than $4,800 over the course of two days without verifying any information.

Generally, the "Grandma Scam" occurs when a grandparent receives a call from a person claiming to be a grandchild. The caller usually begins the conversation by saying, "Hi Grandma, it's me, your favorite grandchild."

"Grandma scammers" tell the grandmother they are in some kind of trouble; usually an automobile accident, or under arrest and need bail money. They generally have the grandchild's name and are quick to answer questions, Harris said.

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, Harris said.

"We want to protect all of our residents especially our elderly residents," he said.

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.


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