CBS 5 Advocate

'Grandparent Scam' continues to entrap unsuspecting seniors

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A Glendale couple lost $4000 in a sophisticated scam with a new twist aimed at loving grandparents.

You've likely heard about the Grandparent Scam, but most seniors aren't thinking about getting ripped off, so many still don't know about it. The scheme is run by clever, informed actors who know exactly how to get seniors to do what they want.

"They know how to get to grandparents, they've got it down," Joyce Heuett said.

Joyce and Jerry Heuett say the phone rang early on a Tuesday morning.

"I said 'hello', then I get, 'hello grandma', and I said 'Brian?' What?," Joyce Heuett said.

"Brian", the couple's only grandson, said Phoenix Police had pulled over his friend, found drugs in the car, and he was now in jail needing $4000 in bail money. The embarrassed caller pleaded for secrecy.

"He answered the phone like Brian would, there was just no question, it was Brian," Jerry Heuett said.

The Heuett's say police got on the phone and instructed them to go to Target and load $4,000 on gift cards.

"He said now they'll probably question you but you just tell them it's none of their business," Jerry Heuett said.

Heuett read off the numbers on the back of the card to the "police" and the funds were siphoned immediately.  Days later, the couple called their grandson for an update on the bail bond.

"I said Brian, where's my $4,000 and Brian says 'Grandpa, what are you talking about?'" Jerry Heuett said.

It wasn't Brian or police on the phone that Tuesday morning, it was impersonators, skilled at spinning a yarn and stealing money. The scheme can be easily foiled if victims reach out to family.

"Take the time, to hang up, and call the parent," Jerry Heuett said.

Call any family member to verify where the grandchild is. Fight through the guilt being laid on you to keep quiet.. disobey the person on the other end of the line, even if you believe it is your grandchild. That action will stop the scam cold.

Be careful not to give the scammer the tools they need to take your money. Scammers try to trick the grandparent into saying the child's name first on the phone call and they troll social media looking for other clues. And even though scammers typically claim the grandchild is in a foreign country, the scheme can still work locally as well.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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