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The Pocatello Police Department is warning seniors to beware of so-called "grandparent scams," in which fraudsters are impersonating a grandchild in distress -- and begging for cash. According to Dianne Brush of Community Services, “This particular scam has been around for years but, seems to be hitting our area hard. Three people in the last two days have been duped out of thousands of dollars.”
The scam consists of a phone call from someone claiming to be a grandchild, who is in a dire situation which can only be solved by the grandparent immediately getting money to the grandchild. The call is usually late at night or early in the morning when most people aren’t thinking clearly. Sometimes the caller claims to be a police officer or a doctor who needs the grandparent to wire money for a fine, surgery or other emergency. The caller is very convincing and urges the grandparent to act quickly and not to call the grandchild’s parents. The caller asks the victim to either wire money to them or to purchase pre-paid debit cards and to call back with the pin numbers for the cards.
Seniors are urged to resist the pressure to act quickly. Instead, call the grandchild, the grandchild’s parent or another relative to confirm if there is an emergency. “Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail, especially overseas. Wiring money or purchasing pre-paid debit cards is like giving cash, once you send it, you can’t get it back,” warns Brush.