CONSUMER ALERT!

Consumer Protection Division
(208) 334-2424 or
Toll-free at (800) 432-3545

Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: June 10, 2009

Grandparent Scam Surfaces in Idaho

(Boise) - Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says his office has received several calls from Idaho senior citizens reporting attempts to cheat them out of money in the “grandparent scam.” Wasden warned grandparents not to wire money to callers claiming to be their grandchildren.

Wasden said about a dozen such calls have been reported to his office in the past few weeks. One Idaho grandmother reported that she had wired $11,000 out of the United States, believing that her grandson was in prison under horrible conditions.

A typical call goes like this:

Victim: Hello.

Caller: Grandma?

Victim: Is that you, Justin?

Caller: Yeah, Grandma, it’s me and I need some help. I wrecked my car in Canada and I’m in jail. I need $3,000 for bail so I can get out of jail. I called you because I don’t want Mom and Dad to know I’m in trouble, so please don’t tell them I called. Can you wire the money to me today, Grandma? I don’t want to spend another night in jail. And you won’t tell Mom and Dad, promise?

Sometimes the caller will hand the phone to another person who will claim to be a police officer or bail bondsman.

“These calls are a cynical hoax, originating mostly in Canada,” Attorney General Wasden said. “Anyone who receives such a call should be very skeptical. Ask questions to verify the caller’s identity. Before you do anything, call the parents or other family members. Don’t wire money, which is like sending cash and is almost impossible to recover. Don’t give credit card or bank account information over the phone if someone calls you.”

Wasden said any Idaho resident who has sent money should file a report with their local police or sheriff. They may also contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. In the Boise area, call (208) 334–2424. Elsewhere in Idaho, call the toll–free number, (800) 432–3545.

“It is very difficult to trace funds sent by wire transfer,” Wasden said, “but if information is still ‘hot’ and there is a Canada connection, my office can help people get in touch with the Phonebusters anti-fraud hotline run by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and provincial police.”

The Phonebusters toll–free number is (888) 495–8501.

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