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Hingham police caution residents about scam targeting grandparents

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 20, 2012 01:06 PM

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Hingham police are cautioning locals to be wary of a scam that targets elderly residents for money.

According to police, scams such as these have been going on a long time, but most recently affected a 75-year-old Hingham woman.

On Wednesday, police said, the woman came into the station visibly upset that she had been almost been taken in what is commonly referred to as the “grandparent” scam.

The woman said she had received a phone call at 11:30 a.m. that day from someone who identified herself as the woman's granddaughter. The caller even addressed the victim as “Nana”.

The granddaughter said she was in trouble and needed help. When the victim questioned the sound of her granddaughter’s voice and quizzed her about what her mother’s first name was, the granddaughter said the correct name.

The granddaughter also said she was in Peru and that the connection was not clear.

According to the victim, the caller said she was on vacation and was riding in a car with a friend when they were pulled over. The caller went on to say that drugs were found on her friend but they were both arrested, and that she needed money to make bail, pay a lawyer, and fly home.

According to police, the victim said that a man then came on the phone and said he was her lawyer and that the victim needed to send money to help her granddaughter.

A short time later, the man called back again and said he was calling from the courthouse, and that the victim needed to wire $1,895 through Western Union, partially for bail and partially for attorney’s fees.

The woman was told to wire the money to Lima, Peru. The lawyer then said the granddaughter would be flying home on the next flight after the money was received.

The victim was partially convinced by the scam, mostly because the suspect knew details of the victim’s life and the fact that her granddaughter lives out of state and may be traveling.

Fortunately, before wiring the money, the victim called her daughter, who then called the victim’s granddaughter and found that she was actually in the United States at work.

According to Hingham police, this scam has been used on Hingham residents before, and police have issued warnings in the past.

“Although the details of this scam change from time to time, the suspects continue to target the sympathy of grandparents and ask them not to tell their children that they are in 'trouble.” This is to delay others from finding out until after the money is wired,” Hingham police said.

In this instance, police believe the suspects obtained information about the family through social media sites.

Police are encouraging all residents to distribute this story and information to avoid anyone being trapped by the scam.

In early September, state Attorney General Martha Coakley issued an advisory that urged grandparents to watch out for the scam.

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