By Kathi Bliss
Reports have recently surfaced that scammers are using a new, emotional tactic to target area residents, in the hopes of tricking them out of money.
A reader contacted the Post-Register last week to give a warning that his mother had been contacted by someone claiming to be her grandson, who said that he was incarcerated in Atlanta and to ask her for $3,000 for bail.
Shortly after, the 89-year-old woman received a second call from a woman claiming to work for a bail bonding agency and attempting to work out the bail for “Joe.” The woman became suspicious, because “Joe” is not her grandson’s name, and asked for the name of the company. The caller then disconnected the call.
Though the reader said he suspects the scam may have been executed by someone in or around the Lockhart area, it is more likely that the telephone number was randomly selected. News reports of similar schemes have popped up across the country over the course of the last year, and this was the second such report made to the Post-Register this month.
Local law enforcement officials said Wednesday morning they had not received reports recently of any version of “The Grandkid Scam.”
Often, law enforcement sources have stated, those who are targets or would-be targets of such schemes are embarrassed to have been “taken in” by the scammers, and therefore decline to report the incidents. Because the incidents are so infrequently reported, they said, it is virtually impossible for police to establish any patterns or common threads among the potential targets.
Variations on the scheme reported nationwide include a friend or family member who has been arrested, hospitalized, or experiencing car trouble out of town, and needing to have money either transferred to an account, or sent via Western Union or other cable service.
A similar scam has been reported to target Facebook users.
A local Facebook user recently reported that his account had been “hacked,” and that another user reached out to people on his contact list, pretending to be him, and saying that he was stranded overseas and needed money to get home.
As the holidays near, such scams generally become more common. Local residents are reminded to be vigilant about their financial information and to make sure to double- and triple-check before sending money or giving banking information to anyone over the phone, computer or other source.