CARLSBAD — A recent phone call to a grandmother from a man claiming to be her grandson in dire need of money caused a rise to action by neighbors of a senior apartment home as they scrambled to save the woman from a “granny scam” that could have cost her thousands of dollars.
Georgia Deering, manager of a Jefferson Street senior community in Carlsbad Village, alerted authorities on June 27 of the incident that nearly cost a resident $3,500 when she was convinced that she received a call from her grandson needing immediate help.
But the call was fraudulent, according to Deering.
Deering told police that the resident had just received a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandson jailed in Mexico who needed money to post bond.
“She (the resident) is calling neighbors, asking for a ride to the bank to transfer money,” Deering said.
The resident refused to believe it was a scam until her son-in-law was reached and could verify that the caller was not the woman’s grandson.
This type of crime is one of many that are on the rise, according to San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis. She said that there has been a countywide increase in criminals targeting elderly citizens through what is called a “granny scam.”
“This particular scam isn’t going away,” Dumanis said.
Dumanis said that in a grandparent scam, the victim might easily succumb to the caller, thinking that it is a grandchild in trouble in a foreign country. The caller often claims to have been in a car accident, arrested or in some type of medical emergency and in need of money.
According to the district attorney’s office, there have been at least 25 seniors who fell prey to the fraudulent calls within the past two years in San Diego, and reported losses totaling $141,482.
A recent case was reported to have drained $120,000 from a Carlsbad woman’s account after wiring money to China.
One red flag warning that a grandparent is being scammed is that the caller insists the victim not tell anyone about the money transfer.
The Jefferson Street grandmother fortunately didn’t send any money, and Deering told authorities that the elderly woman’s son-in-law was going to change her bank account to require both his and her signature for future withdraws.
San Diego Deputy District Attorney Paul Greenwood is the lead prosecutor of elderly abuse crimes. He advises people to be suspicious of anyone who calls unexpectedly and requests that a sum of money be wire-transferred.
Successful scammers may also sell the victim’s phone number to other “tricksters,” and it is advised that victims change their phone numbers to avoid a repeat of predatory phone calls.
The district attorney’s office urges victims to report financial scams through the County’s Adult Protective Services hot line number at 1 (800) 510-2020.