In Your Corner: Confronting A Scammer

By Ryan Elijah

March 12, 2012 Updated Mar 12, 2012 at 10:11 AM EDT

Two weeks ago, a man we'll call Frances received a call saying "Grandpa you know who this is?"

The call came early in the morning and Frances guessed his Grandson Kenny. The scammers were off and running from there, "Kenny" told Frances he was traveling with friends in Lima, Peru and was arrested for speeding. Frances, not awake and concerned wired $1500 to Kenny for bail.

"What got me, Kenny was in trouble and needed help, when he appealed to me directly, I was taken in by it", said Frances.

The scammers were even greedy enough to call back and ask for more money for an attorney, but this time Frances said no. He then called Kenny at home and knew he'd been scammed when he answered. Frances said the caller was using a cell phone making it hard to identify the voice or number. The Grandparent Scam is not new, but has picked up recently, not only in our viewing area, but around the country. San Diego saw 6 victims in the past 9 months, including an 82-year-old woman that sent $135-thousand dollars to China. The Better Business Bureau says it's imperative to take that extra step before sending money that is virtually impossible to get back.

"Emotion takes over and once you send that check, you're never going to see it again", said Mike Coil, President of the Northern Indiana Better Business Bureau.

The Fort Wayne Police Department does have an open case on the theft, but they say the numbers and names are often fake, making tracing them very difficult. The common element is a Western Union or Money wiring company, where the money can be picked up anywhere, by anyone.

We called two different numbers we had, using a private phone number. The first was a recorded message by police warning of fraud, but we were stunned when the second number led us right to the Officer Miller that Frances was asked to call at the U.S. Embassy.

"Hello this is officer Miller at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Ryan Elijah "it it just a coincidence that Officer Miller has been mentioned as the person involved in scams and you answer the phone that way? Officer Miller, "that is weird". Ryan Elijah- What is your role at the Embassy? Officer Miller- I guess to scam people like you. Ryan Elijah- "so you're taking people's money?"
"so you're taking money from people.... Click!"

Apparently "Officer Miller" had enough of our questions and hung up, when we called back later, from another number, we reached a taco business. It's not clear if the "Grandparent Scam" is using marketing lists or random numbers, but elderly residents should use caution if they receive a similar request. We appreciate Frances stepping forward to make sure there are no more victims in our area.

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