Elderly woman loses $4,000 after falling victim to grandparent scam

Elderly woman loses $4,000 after falling victim to grandparent scam

ELYRIA, OH (WOIO) - An 84-year-old Elyria woman was scammed out of $4,000 after she fell victim to a "grandparent" scam earlier this month.

According to an Elyria police report, on Jan. 18, the woman got a call from a man who said he was her grandson, "Mitch."

"Mitch" told her that he was in trouble after getting into a crash on his way home from college, that he injured a girl and was going to be in jail. He told her that he would have his attorney call and explain everything.

A short time later, the woman got a call from the alleged "attorney" who called himself James Henderson. Henderson said her grandson was in jail and would need $4,000 to post bond.

The victim was told by Henderson that she needed to obtain two Target gift cards, each valued at $2,000, and call him back to provide the serial numbers.

She went to Target, but was told they don't sell gift cards that high, and only in $100 increments. So instead she purchased Visa gift cards worth $4,000. She called Henderson, who said he could not accept those, only Target ones.

She returned the Visa cards, then went back to Target where, according to the report, she was able to get the two $2,000 gift cards.

She called Henderson back, and gave him the serial numbers. He assured her that "Mitch" was being released.

The victim told police she does have a grandson named Mitch, who is in college. When he came home for the weekend, she asked about the crash and he had no idea what she was talking about.

She then realized she was the victim of a scam, and notified police.

According to the website Fraud.org, a project of the National Consumer's League, people should beware of any urgent solicitation of funds, like bail money or lawyer fees.

Also, before sending any money, you should contact the relative the scam artist is claiming to be, to see if you can verify the details of the story.

In addition, the scam artists usually ask for a wire transfer, or gift cards. That should always be treated suspiciously. Scammers also often call late at night to try and confuse potential victims.

If you feel you are a victim, call your local police, and the Ohio Attorney General's Office to report it.

According to a 2014 CBS report, one out of 50 people fall for this type of scam. It's estimated at seniors are robbed of nearly $3 billion a year in financial scams.

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