The Collier County Sheriff’s Office wants the community to be wary of telephone calls seeking money to bail loved ones out of jail after several residents reported falling victim to scammers running the ‘Grandkid’ Scam.
The caller typically pretends to be a family member, usually a grandchild, and asks for money. The caller asks the victim not tell other relatives because they don’t want to worry the family. Or the caller pretends to be a type of official such as a law enforcement officer or attorney or hospital employee. They will advise that your grandchild has some type of emergency and needs money do deal with it.
The caller may even know the victim’s name, nickname or other information because they have tracked down details about the person through social media websites such as Facebook. The caller asks the victim to send money, usually via prepaid cards or wire transfer, to begin the process of helping the grandchild hence the name, ‘Grandkid’ Scam. This is a scam. If you believe a family member is in need of financial assistance, call them back at their contact number and verify that they called.
In the most recent Collier County ‘Grandkid’ Scam case, a scammer called an 84-year-old North Naples man in July claiming to be the man’s grandson. The caller said he was involved in an accident and was being charged with DUI and needed the victim to wire him money in order to bond out of jail. When the victim told the caller that he didn’t sound like his grandson, the scammer replied that his face was injured from the airbag.
The victim followed the scammer’s instructions to go to his local Wal-Mart and wire money to be picked up at a Wal-Mart in New York. However, the scammer contacted the money transfer company in an attempt to reroute the money. The company became suspicious and put a hold on the transaction.
The victim’s adult daughter became aware of what her father had done and reported the transaction to the company’s fraud hotline. The company canceled the transaction and gave the victim a full refund.
Always be skeptical of any unverified solicitation. If you feel the need to check into the call further, research the legitimate number for the organization the caller represents. Do not call the number they give you or the number that shows on the caller ID. If you do receive one of these calls, simply tell the person not to call again and hang up. Be prepared that they may try to call you again. If a caller demands payment via prepaid cards, this should be a red flag that it is likely a scam.
For assistance with any suspicious encounter involving a request for money or personal information, contact the Collier County Sheriff’s Office’s “Call Before You Pay” hotline at 239.252.CALL (2255). The hotline is staffed by a CCSO detective in the Financial Crimes Bureau between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.