Chatham Township Police want residents to be aware of a scheme known as "the grandparent scam," which one 80-year-old township man became a victim of earlier this month.
Lt. Steven Hennelly said a grandparent may receive a telephone call or email from someone posing as a grandchild. "If it is a phone call, it’s often late at night or early in the morning when most people aren’t thinking that clearly," Hennelly said in a statement Friday.
The caller will wait for the victim to give the name of a grandchild, and will claim to be that grandchild. The caller may also claim to be a police officer, a lawyer, a doctor at a hospital or someone else with a connection to the grandchild.
The township man wired $2,800 to a location in Peru on Jan. 7, where he was told his grandson had been arrested.
"We’ve also received complaints about the phony grandchild talking first and then handing the phone over to an accomplice in an effort to try and make this seem real," Hennelly said.
The caller will say the victim's grandchild is in a "bad situation and needs money wired to them as soon as possible, Hennelly said.
Examples of the "bad situations" include being arrested for drugs, being mugged or being in a car accident—something they don't want their parents told about, so the victim will not confirm the grandchild's whereabouts with the parents.
Hennelly said this is another example of fraud schemes which prey on senior citizens, "this time by taking advantage of their love and concern for their grandchildren."
Hennelly recommends any resident who receives a call similar to this scenario, or any call or email requesting a money wire, contact their local police department for guidance.