Sheriff’s Office helps recover $55,000 for phone scam victim
–Detective David Marquez of the Sheriff’s Office recently was able to successfully return $55,000 to a 84-year-old Atascadero man who was the victim of a phone scam.
The case began on July 2 when the victim received a phone call from a man who claimed to be an attorney representing the victim’s grandson. The man claimed the grandson had been in a car accident and needed $5,000 to bail him out of custody. This is known as the “Grandparent Scam,” which typically targets elderly residents. In this scam, someone poses as a grandchild in jail or in the hospital in a foreign country and requesting money for bail or emergency medical treatment.
The victim in this case did the right thing before sending the money. He tried contacting his grandson to confirm the story, but was unable to do so. He also went online to check on the attorney and found one who’s name matched that given to him by the caller.
Thinking this was legitimate, the victim placed the money into a bank account given to him by the caller. Once this transaction took place, the scammer called the victim again and told him there was a law enforcement officer involved in the alleged accident with his grandson and the officer had died from his injuries. The caller now told the victim to deposit $50,000 to another bank account to keep his grandson out of trouble.
Soon after that transaction was made, the grandson called and said there had been no accident. The victim then contacted the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. Detective Marquez was able to trace the bank accounts to Las Vegas and Texas. With the evidence he had collected, he was able to convince the banks to place a hold on the deposited money and as a result was able to return all $55,000 to the victim.
Some tips to avoid being scammed
Verify the caller’s identity by contacting your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate. Be suspicious if you’re told not to contact law enforcement. Resist the pressure to act quickly. Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an email. Wiring money is like giving cash, once you send it, you cannot get it back. For further tips on avoiding scams contact the Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Unit at (805) 781-4578.