"Grandparent scam" hits Two Harbors areaBruce Highland of Two Harbors was worried when his grandson called last week and asked for $4,500 in bail money. He had been speeding, he said, and when the police pulled him over they found drugs underneath his seat.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
Bruce Highland of Two Harbors was worried when his grandson called last week and asked for $4,500 in bail money. He had been speeding, he said, and when the police pulled him over they found drugs underneath his seat.
“I told him, no problem, I’ll come down to the station and bail you out,” Highland said.
His grandson refused the offer, and told him that it would be quicker if he just wired the money, Highland reported.
Teresa Salaka was at Highland’s home at the time, and she thought the story sounded suspicious. She called the police station to see if Highland’s grandson was there; he wasn’t. Highland called and left a message at his grandson’s house and spoke with him later that evening—the story told by the earlier caller was completely untrue.
Highland was the target of a phone scam, which has been dubbed the “Grandparent Scam” by the Minnesota Attorney General. It works like this: the fraudster calls a grandparent, acts as a grandchild in distress and begs the grandparent to wire money. Sometimes the caller will start the call with a phrase like, “Hi Grandpa! Do you know who this is?” When the grandparent responds with a name, the caller will pose as that grandchild.
In Highland’s case, the caller had researched his grandson’s name and used it from the beginning. Some callers pretend to be a bondsman or bailiff. The caller almost always asks the grandparent to wire money immediately and not to tell anyone else about the transaction.
Two Harbors Police Chief Kevin Ruberg said this scam has been going on for a while and that people should always be suspicious when they receive a call asking for a wire transfer.
“People should never be wiring money unless they are 100 percent certain about the situation,” Ruberg said.
He added that calling the law enforcement agency to check if a grandchild is incarcerated there is a good move. The Minnesota Attorney General advises trying to verify the caller’s identity by asking him or her a question only the grandchild would know or by calling the grandchild’s parent. Grandparents should resist the urge to send the money immediately.
“Just use common sense,” Ruberg said.
Highland said he just wants to make sure no one else has to experience the panic of thinking their grandchild is in trouble.