Woman Scammed Out of $175K

One elderly New Canaan woman fell victim to the "grandparent scam."


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.

Pem McNerney September 14, 2012 at 01:35 AM
you know, i wonder if some of these scamsters might have enough information about their targets to know they'll be successful, perhaps targeting people who are isolated or not regularly in touch with their families. but, still, you're right ... it boggles the mind.
Liz Neighbors September 14, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Scam. So sad. Sickening to prey on the elderly. It makes me wonder how these scammers will be treated when they're older.
Matt September 14, 2012 at 03:29 AM
This is a very common scam. Finding a target is pretty easy. All you need is a facebook account. Find a college age kid who has made mention of a grandma or grandpa. Find out some other personal information that everyone so readily plasters all over their wall. Then, call Grandma pretending to be the kid. Happens all the time.
Charles Molnar September 14, 2012 at 06:12 PM
In California we have a law mandating bank personnel to report suspected elder financial abuse. Whoever let this woman withdraw these amounts without question should be held responsible. Almost always the money is wired by Western Union. I've unsuccessfully tried to get a law mandating the money wire trasnfer services to report suspected elder financial abuse, also. This would help stop this abuse.
Gopal Das September 15, 2012 at 05:45 AM
I think everybody should check out the Scam Detector app. I believe they're online as well.


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