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Beware, he's not your grandson

Seven Tigard residents have reported the same phone scam in the last week
by: Jaime Valdez Tigard resident Pat Melvin said she ‘smelled a scam right off the bat’ when someone called her last week claiming to be her grandson and wanting money. Nearly a dozen similar calls were reported in Tigard in the last month.

Tigard Police have seen a dramatic uptick in reports of a phone scam targeting senior citizens over the last month,.

The so-called 'Grandparent Scam' has been around for years, said Tigard police spokesman Jim Wolf: An elderly person receives a phone call from someone claiming to be a grandchild or relative. The person claims to be in trouble and asks the senior to wire them money.

According to police logs, scam calls come in about once a month, but the Tigard Police Department has received nearly a dozen reports over the last month, with four calls coming in a single day, and Wolf said that there are likely several more.

One Tigard grandmother wasn't buying it when she received a similar call, and is now warning people about the scam and how to keep from losing thousands of dollars.

Pat Melvin was at home last week when she received a call from someone claiming to be her 21-year-old grandson.

'He said 'Grandma, I'm in trouble again.' He said he was in Woolwich, Canada,' Melvin said.

The man weaved an elaborate story about being arrested for drug possession and pleaded with Melvin to wire him money to help him out.

'He kept saying, 'Let's keep this call between ourselves, OK?''

Melvin said she knew instantly that the man on the phone wasn't her grandson.

'I smelled a scam right off the bat,' she said.

Melvin said she could hear other people making similar calls in the background, and suspected that the man might have been reading from a script.

'I told him 'you know there's a scam going around right now,' and I explained to him exactly what he was doing,' she said.

Melvin is lucky. In the last few weeks one man in Tigard reportedly wired $3,400 to someone claiming to be his grandson, Wolf said.

Another man attempted to wire money to someone who claimed to be a grandchild, but a Western Union teller inside a Tigard Rite Aid suspected the scam and was able to stop the transfer, saving the man thousands of dollars.

Back at the Tigard Police Station, Wolf said that many of these scams go unreported.

'It's partly embarrassment,' Wolf said. 'But many don't tell anyone about it because they don't want people to think that they can't be independent.'

It isn't clear how the scammers get the names and phone numbers of senior citizens, but Wolf said that the scammers are smart, often masking their phone numbers and making the calls untraceable.

'They are able to draw the name of a grandchild out of you,' Wolf said.

Once they have that, Wolf said, it's much easier to coax people into sending money.

Melvin said that had her grandson really been in trouble she would have done whatever she could, but warned that people should verify the information before they send any money.

'They must think us seniors are stupid. They must think that all of us have lost our marbles, but this is one granny that hasn't lost her marbles yet,' she said.