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SCAM ALERT: Tempe grandpa loses $3,500 to 'grandparent scam'

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"I bit it hook, line and sinker," David Bjoren said. (Source: 3TV) "I bit it hook, line and sinker," David Bjoren said. (Source: 3TV)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

David Bjoren says it happens to him and his wife nearly every morning. The phone rings and it is always an annoying telemarketer on the other end of the line.

"We laugh and say if the phone rings at 8:30 in the morning, then that's the first telemarketer today," he said.

But Bjoren, 79, says a recent phone call he got was quite different and very troubling.  

"I picked up, and the hook was, 'Do you know who this is?"  And I said, 'Uh, no."

This senior citizen didn't know it at the time, but this phone call was about to scam him out of thousands of dollars.

According to Bjoren, the call involved what he now describes as two actors on the other end of the line. 

"So, actor  No. 1 says this is your grandson.'  And I said, 'Josh?"

Bjoren's grandson, Josh, is 19 years old now and lives out of state.

But according to the "Josh" on the other end of the line, he was vacationing down in Mexico City, was arrested, and he needed his grandfather's help. 

"So, he started spinning a story, and he had me caught sympathizing with him," Bjoren explained. "He started sobbing and expressing how sorry he was and embarrassed." 

"Josh" claimed to be at the American Embassy and was going to let an official there talk to his grandfather.

Bjoren refers to that guy as actor  No. 2.   

"And he explained to me how 'Josh' had a $2,000 bond and said, 'Are you able to take care of that?'  And, I hem-hawed around like huh?" 

Less than 30 minutes later, Bjoren found himself at a grocery store so he could wire that $2,000.

As he filled out the Western Union paperwork, Bjoren did not see a warning clearly stating, "Do not send money to a grandchild or family member for an emergency situation that you have not confirmed."

Western Union prints that warning because the so-called "grandparent scam" is so prevalent. 

As a result, Bjoren wired the money, and not much later his phone rang again.  This time, the embassy official needed $1,500 more in order to pay a fine for Bjoren's grandson.

So, the senior citizen went back to the store, filled out that Western Union paperwork and wired $1,500.

"I wired $1,500 because I'm going along with the game because somehow I was convinced it was all legit," Bjoren said.

Unaware that he had just been duped out of a total of $3,500, Bjoren went back home, and yes, he got another phone call with a request for help getting his grandson out of Mexico and back to the United States.

"The story was that he has to have a U.S. Marshal with him on the airplane and that it will cost $1,900 to do that, and they wanted me to pay the $1,900," Bjoren said.

This loving grandfather was about to wire that $1,900 when he and his wife finally told a relative what was going on. That relative stopped them from wiring any more money.

Just then, reality set in for Bjoren and his wife.
"I said, 'Honey, we've just been scammed.' I bit it hook, line and sinker," Bjoren said.

Bjoren tells 3 On Your Side that he wants other senior citizens to hear what happened to him, so others are not scammed.

He says he was simply trying to help what he thought was his grandson, and it turned out he fell victim one of the most common scams around.

[RELATED: BBB warns of top scams]

[RELATED: BBB launches new 'scam tracker' website]

Copyright 2015 CBS 5 News (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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