WESTMORELAND COUNTY (KDKA) — They’re called “Grandparent Bond Scams” and they’re happening in neighborhoods across America.
Usually, they go like this: You get a call from somebody claiming a relative or someone you care deeply about is in jail, and you need to supply bond money to get them out.READ MORE: Community Garden In Pittsburgh Holds Volunteer Events To Help Community Heal After Tree Of Life Shooting
The person on the other end of the phone says they’re acting as your loved one’s lawyer. The victims are almost always grandparents or older parents.
In the past, they would ask you to get a gift card or a money order.
However, state police said Roderick Feurtado, Roberto Gutierrez, Robi Feurtado-Castillo, and Tarek Bouanane changed the script. Instead of credit cards, they would show up at the victim’s home to collect the cash.
Investigators say the four suspects would play the role of the bogus bail bondsmen and take the money and run.READ MORE: Study: Rural Home Sales In Pennsylvania Increased During Pandemic
Investigators say the 10 known victims were allegedly taken for a combined $250,000 in Unity and Hempfield townships. In Allegheny County, the group allegedly scammed people living in White Oak, Upper St. Clair, Canton Township, North Fayette Township and Pittsburgh.
Police say the alleged scam fell apart when a potential victim in Bethel Park called police saying they believed they might be being taken for a scam.
Police say the person allegedly sent to pick up the money was Gutierrez, who found police waiting for him. Gutierrez’s arrest led to the other three suspects, whose alleged base of operations was the Pittsburgh Airport Marriot and the Hyatt Place Pittsburgh, also near the airport.
State Trooper Stephen Limani told KDKA that getting a room at a hotel is common for many alleged traveling scam operations.
According to Limani, “They’ll set up camp for a week or two weeks, and then they’ll move to a different area.”MORE NEWS: Doctor Accused Of Hoarding Dead Kittens In Her Freezer
Facing multiple felony theft counts, all four suspects are held without bond. Investigators say a possible fifth female suspect may be involved. Investigators believe there are more victims of this scam who have yet to come forward.