Dec 24, 2012 3:29 PM by Shannon Davis - MTN News

Advice offered to avoid 'Grandparent Scam' in MT

BUTTE - Montana senior citizens lost $68,000 in 2010, in what the state Department of Justice calls the grandparent scam.

Whitehall resident Robert Hanlon was one of the victims of the scam.

"I mean I felt almost stupid because you don't realize that there's stuff going on even though you hear about it. You just kind [say] ‘well this will never happen to me'," Hanlon said.

The Grandparent Scam became a problem across the nation in 2010, and in the Treasure State, one couple lost more than $6,000 wiring money to bail out their granddaughter, who was supposedly incarcerated in Spain.

"There are many different varieties of how they manage to get the money out of you, but they usually say don't tell my mom, don't tell mom and dad because they don't want you to check," Montana Department of Justice spokeswoman Jennifer McGee said.

"She says ‘grandpa me and a girlfriend we went to work as stewardesses and we went to Niagara Falls, and we rented a car, and got to partying...we wrecked the car.' And she says ‘I'm in jail'," Hanlon recalled.

Clearly if you thought about it, you would know where your grandchildren were, but they start out with a very emotional story telling you ‘I'm being detained in foreign country, I'm in trouble,' so automatically you begin to worry.

Hanlon was told to call an attorney, who asked for $900 for the release of his granddaughter.

Suspicious, he checked for a record of his daughter in Niagara Falls, and seeing no record, he called her cell phone and he discovered she was safe at home.

"Later on that afternoon this attorney calls me back again and wanted know if I 'd had any luck. I said. ‘yes I did have luck, I found out you guys are nothing but a scam'," Hanlon said.

Prosecuting this crime is very difficult.

"I'm actually not aware of a prosecution in Montana, only because your only connection to these people is this phone number, and as soon as they know that you are on to them it's disconnected," McGee said.

It's called the Grandparent Scam because people under 40 typically don't have landlines. The scammers will call landlines repeatedly until some falls for it t.

There are two things you should remember:

  • If someone asks you to wire money, always double check the story even if you think you know where the money is going
  • Do not wire money to someone you don't know.

That's important, because authorities say once the money has been sent, it can't be recovered.


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