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Police warn of grandparent scam


The Fairview Police Department is investigating at least two recent reports from residents who’ve lost about $5,000 in what’s known as the “grandparent scam.”

Police Officer Eric Flener said the scam involves someone calling and claiming to be a grandchild. The caller says he or she is in trouble, and has been arrested in Mexico.

The caller provides a detailed story of how they got caught up in a bad situation and need several thousand dollars for either bail or a "processing" fee.

They also instruct the victim to not tell anyone because it is "an open and ongoing investigation.” The caller will also give an elaborate story on why a money order should be sent to the country of Haiti, even though the grandchild reportedly is jailed in Mexico.

Flener said Fairview police has received reports of at least two or three instances in Fairview in the past couple of weeks.

In one instance, the victim didn’t recognize the caller’s voice as a grandchild’s but thought the grandchild had a cold.

“It plays on our sympathies,” Flener said of the scam, adding that in many cases, the caller breaks down crying on the phone before an ambassador or someone else in a position of authority gets on the line.

Also, once the victim sends money via Western Union, the crook sometimes calls back demanding more money for “legal fees.”

Alert bank employees encouraged one Fairview scam victim to call relatives before sending the money. That’s how the victim discovered the grandchild was fine and that the request for help was a scam.

“We urge citizens to be very vigilant and question any such request for money,” Flener said. “A legitimate organization will provide contact information that can be easily verified. In the cases under investigation, fictitious phone numbers were provided. A quick check could have verified the information was a scam."