PLUM (KDKA) — Police are warning local senior citizens about the “Grandma” scam and say con artists could soon be calling.
Dorothy Matthews is a victim. It all started with a phone call.
“My grandson was in trouble. I’d help any of my grand kids out,” she said.
A man she thought was her 21-year-old grandson Dean told Dorothy he’d been arrested in Canada on drug charges, needed help and handed the phone to a so-called police officer.
“He says that he’s going to need bail money,” she said. “And I says, ‘Well, how do I do that?’ He says, ‘Well, you have to wire it.’”
That began a two-day ordeal in the Matthews home with scam artists convincing them not to call police or family, convincing them to wire nearly $12,000 to Spain and Ireland for bail money and lawyers to help their grandson.
“No matter what we said or questioned him about, he had an answer that God would have believed,” Dorothy said.
It wasn’t until her money was gone her grandson called and said he was ok. She realized she had been scammed.
“I was very, very, very angry,” she said.
Police say it starts online. Scammers use a website, take a phony phone number and name that shows up on any caller ID. They use a fake Canadian police department name and phone number to rip people off.
“Well they have scammers and they generally do it from outside the country,” Plum Police Chief Frank Monoco said. “Used to be out of Nigeria, but we have a lot of them come out of Canada.”
Plum police worked the Dorothy Matthews’ case. They’ve seen others, short warning folks there’s little they can do to make an arrest or get the stolen money back.
“Somebody gets a call like that from out of the country that their family member is being held should call their local police, we can certainly check it,” Monoco said.
Police say talk to your parents, grandparents, neighbors and tell them to call police immediately about a call for any sort of request for money from outside the country.
Federal agents say close to $100 million a year is ripped off from Americans with scams like the so-called “Grandma” scam.