'Grandparents scam' costs local residents thousands

'Grandparents scam' costs local residents thousands
FBI file image.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland police are warning well-meaning elders that a well-worn but believable scam has cost two sets of Portland grandparents  thousands of dollars before they figured out they were being swindled.

Commonly called the “Grandparents Scam,” the perpetrators typically call or email the grandparents of a young person, claim they are law enforcement officials and say their grandchild, child, niece or nephew is in jail for a crime in a foreign country and is requesting bail money or money to pay a lawyer.

Portland Police said that in January, one couple who sent $3,400 to an account in Bolivia was told their granddaughter was in a British Columbia jail. Police said they were alerted by the victim’s bank when the couple was about to wire the swindlers another $2,500.

In another case, worried grandparents wired over $2,500 to Haiti after being told their grandson was in prison there. When the scammer requested another $1,600 for “attorney’s fees,” the victims contacted their grandson’s parents who assured them their son was in school, not in Haiti.

“In both cases, the scammers had very personal information about both kids, including names and personal information, making their pitch very believable,” police said.

Scam artists can often find personal information about young people from websites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or other social networks. They then use that detailed information to make a convincing case the grandchild is in trouble.

Once money has been wired to a foreign country, it is nearly impossible to get it back.

Read more about the Grandparent Scam here.