Sheriff’s Department investigates ‘grandparent scam’
Morgan County Sheriff Ana Franklin has reported that her criminal investigators have received reports of a “grandparent scam’ that has cost a Morgan County woman some money, and evidence indicates it is ongoing in the county.
The scam goes something like this:
A phone call is received from a person who identified himself as a U.S. Embassy staff member based in another country. The caller proceeds to inform you that your grandson/ granddaughter/niece/nephew has been arrested in that country and requires “X” amount of dollars for bail. You are asked to send the requested amount by Western Union.
This scam has been around for about four years. Thanks to various social networking sites and other Internet resources, these scammers find and use personal information that makes these calls seem legitimate. They know your name, your relative’s name, even perhaps that your relative is in fact on vacation in another country.
In the Morgan County case, investigator Kyle Wilson was able to trace the 888 area code number back to California, and then found that number actually routed you to a phone in Quebec, Canada. It apparently was routed from the Canadian number of another location.
Wilson was able to obtain records, which indicated that during a recent eight-day period, over 200 calls were made from the 888 numbers to Alabama alone, with several being in Morgan County.
Sheriff Franklin urges all citizens of Morgan County to be extremely careful of anyone soliciting any kind of financial transactions over the phone, especially one that insists on payment by Western Union or a similar service. Such transactions can be picked up at any Western Union office in the world. Take the time to independently verify whether or not your loved one is even in the country specified by the caller, or any other information the caller gives you.