"Grandpa, I'm in trouble." A senior citizen in Mesa got that scary call, but turns out, it was a scam. The FTC warns people how to avoid becoming a victim.

MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Robert Morrison says he recently got an unexpected phone call, and what the person on the other end had to say startled him. "When I answered the phone, there was a female voice on it and the first thing she said was, 'Grandpa, I'm in trouble.'"

Robert didn't know it, but he was being targeted with something the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) calls the Family Emergency Scam. That's when scammers pose as a relative and claim to have an emergency.

In this case, the female scammer was posing as Robert's 24-year-old granddaughter, who said she broke her nose in an alcohol-related car crash and was in jail. "The voice, did it sound like your granddaughter?” 3 On Your Side’s Gary Harper asked. “Not really,” Robert replied. “Even if she had a broken nose, but I'm not real sure at the time."

Next, the scammer says their 'attorney,' who is actually another con man working in tandem, will be calling with important information. "And she kept stressing that. 'He's really nice. He's really been a good person for me. He's court appointed,'" Robert remembers being told.

When the so-called attorney calls, there's a request for bail money. "Well, he starts explaining what happened. ‘You know, she will be arraigned. This is the docket number. And we have to get the money in pretty quick,’" the scammer told Robert, who wrote down all the information on a piece of paper.

But Robert says something just felt off during his conversation. "The more I started talking to him, the more shaky the thing sounded," he said.

Fortunately, Robert didn't fall for the scam. But countless senior citizens do, thinking a loved one is in need of help. "The supposed granddaughter said 'I'm so embarrassed Grandpa. I'm so sorry.' You know, playing the sympathy card," he said.

These scammers will ask you to wire money, gift cards or even cash to help out your loved one, but don't fall for it. This viewer says he didn't fall for it and that his granddaughter is safe and sound.

Gary Harper's 3 On Your Side reports air weeknights on 3TV News at 9.

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