A New Canaan woman was scammed out of $175,000 after being informed, falsely, that her granddaughter was in custody in California following a serious car accident which resulted in the injury of a child.
The 87-year-old woman fell victim to the "" on Sept. 6 and reported the incident to police on Sept. 12.
According to , a man pretending to be the lawyer representing her granddaughter told the elderly woman she needed to wire him bond money to secure her granddaughter's release from jail. The victim told police she also heard a woman "who was crying hysterically" and then got on the phone, asking for help. The woman eventually ended up wiring $75,000 to California.
Call to granddaughter reveals lie
The woman then received another phone call on Sept. 7, where the man pretending to be the lawyer informed her that the child in the accident died and she needed to wire an additional $100,000 because her granddaughter's bond had increased. The woman wired that amount too, police said.
Following the second wire transfer, a bank employee informed the woman that it sounded like she was being scammed. The woman then called her granddaughter, who informed her that she had not been arrested and wasn't in an accident either.
The case remains under investigation.
Same scam perpetrated in North Madison earlier this year
This same scam was perpetrated in North Madison earlier this year, according to a Madison Patch reader.
The North Madison resident reported to Madison Patch that calls were being made to senior citizens, saying that their grandchild is in trouble and needs help. The caller then asks the senior citizen to wire money.
"The community should be aware that phone calls are being made to Senior citizens to the effect that their grandchild is in trouble (jail etc.)and to wire money," the Madison Patch reader wrote in an email. She asked not to be identified by name.
Many seniors embarassed and don't report scam
She said that many seniors are often embarrassed after they are duped, and so don't report it.
"Many seniors are embarassed to admit that they have done this," she said. "A friend's Mom [in Madison] was duped out of $2,500, thinking she was helping her grandchild."
She said Madison police were made aware of the problem.
"I thought more people need to be aware of this," she said. "Our seniors worked hard for their money and their love for their families is so strong and they want to help."
Madiso police received complaints
Madison police said at the time that they have received complaint of phone scams and that the perpetrators can be difficult to track down, because they are often from out of state or even out of the country.
They reminded Madison residents never to give out personal or financial information, or to make a financial committment, over the phone to someone you do not know.
According to news reports on the web, this kind of senior scam has been going on for several years and all over the country. See this report about a grandparent who fell prey to a similar scam.
Seniors often targeted
The National Crime Prevention Council says seniors are often targeted by scammers.
"According to the FTC, nearly 25 million Americans are victims of consumer fraud each year. Senior citizens continue to be a rapidly increasing segment of the population, and that makes them a prime target for con artists and thieves," the website for the National Crime Prevention Council says. "Studies have shown that senior citizens are more at risk to be targeted by telemarketing scams than other age groups, and fraudulent telemarketers direct anywhere from 56 to 80 percent of their calls at older Americans. These con artists believe that senior citizens are vulnerable and more susceptible to their tricks."
The National Crime Prevention Council, on its website, offers tips to help prevent such scams. Like the Madison police, they say not to give out personal information on the phone, and, if someone does call with an inquiry or offer that sounds interesting, to check it out with an independent source before taking action. "It's not rude, it's shrewd," the website says.