'Grandparent scam' hits Putnam County

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

In recent weeks, state officials have been warning Hoosiers about a "grandparent scam" -- which now seems to have hit Putnam County.

Greencastle Police Chief Tom Sutherlin said he recently received a call from "a concerned parent whose elderly mother had received a similar type of call." Sutherlin said a young man who knew the elderly woman's grandson's first and last name and his city of residence called her to ask her to wire him money.

"He told the elderly lady that he had suffered major vehicle problems and was broken down along the roadway near the city he resided in," Sutherlin said. "He needed her to wire money through Western Union so he could get his vehicle fixed."

The woman told the young man she didn't know how to wire money, Sutherlin said.

"He stated he could help her get it done," Sutherlin said. "The young man further stated that his parents would not help him and started crying. The grandmother finally asked the young man what his middle name was, and then he hung up."

Sutherlin said residents should always use caution when someone calls them and asks for money.

"I would like to emphasize to the public to make sure to ask questions that only the person or family member would know," he said.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller recently sent out a news release warning all Indiana residents about grandparent schemes. Callers trying to pull the scam have told their victims they need money due to auto accidents, overdue rent or brushes with the law, Zoeller said.

"It may seem hard to believe that this scam works but the impostors are good at what they do and choose their targets carefully -- tugging on the heartstrings of caring and loving grandparents," Zoeller's release said. "For example, one Indianapolis couple recently lost most of their life savings to a man posing as their grandson who claimed to be in a car accident in Canada and needed to pay for damages and medical bills. The couple, concerned about their grandson, didn't hesitate to help by wiring $6,000 to Canada. Several weeks passed before they realized they'd been scammed."

Anyone who believed they have been scammed can file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General's Consumer Protection division online at www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling (800) 382-5516.

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