Detectives from the Financial Crimes division of the Montgomery County Police Department are again warning residents of what is typically referred to as the “Grandparent Scam.” The scam has taken a new twist: Victims have collectively given over $48,500 in cash to a scammer that arrives at their home to collect the money.
According to MCPD, The “Grandparent Scam” is a version of a fraud during which the suspect poses as the victim’s family member or friend and tells the victim that he/she is in trouble or needs help. Sometimes the scammer states that the loved one cannot talk, so the scammer talks for the victim. Scammers present a variety of emergencies in these calls, including a loved one in jail, has been in an accident, has been kidnapped, or has been physically hurt. To assist in helping the family member or friend, the suspect generally says that the victim must send money via wire transfer or other fund transfer (i.e., pre-paid cards, internet transaction, gift card purchase).
However, in recent cases of these scams in Montgomery County, the scammer tells the victim that someone will come to the victim’s home to collect the payment. The victim provides the suspect with his/her address, and a person comes and collects cash. These scammers often target older adults.
According to the MCPD press release, the suspect who comes to collect payment in these recent cases is described by victims as a white male in his 30s to 40s.
Recent incidents include:
- On November 16, the 84-year-old female victim of Silver Spring received a call from a scammer posing as her grandson. The “grandson” stated that he had been involved in a traffic collision and was in police custody. Someone then posing as the grandson’s lawyer came on the phone and noted that the victim needs to pay cash for her grandson’s release. A “courier” went to the victim’s home to collect the money.
- On November 19, the 77-year-old female victim of Silver Spring received a call from a scammer posing as a lawyer. The “lawyer” stated that her son had been involved in a car accident and the lawyer needed to be paid to appear in court with her son. A “bail bondsman” came by the home to pick up the cash.
Anyone who has information about the suspects involved with these recent scams is asked to call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000. Those who wish to remain anonymous may contact Crime Solvers by phone at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), online, or via the Crime Solvers app. Crime Solvers may pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them, leading to an arrest in this case.
If you believe you have been a victim of this scam and have given the suspects money, call the police non-emergency number 301-279-8000.
Police say that these types of phone scams are not unique to Montgomery County, and the tactic of going to the victim’s home to pick-up money has been reported in other parts of the state and country.
Police also gave the following tips on what to do if you receive a telephone call that you believe is a scam:
- Do not provide information over the phone. Scammers often ask leading questions to retrieve data from you. Usually, you do not realize that you are giving them valuable information.
- Scammers create a sense of urgency; they state that they are in distress and need money immediately. Slow down and ask the caller for detailed information and a contact number. Tell the caller you will call them back after you verify the information.
- Then, attempt to verify the caller’s story by calling family and or friends. Scammers will often tell the loved one not to tell anyone and explain why the situation cannot or should not be discussed.
- Remember that scammers often use a technique called “spoofing.” Spoofing provides a fictitious number to a Caller ID display.
- Do not send money or provide someone with cash. The scammer might provide you with a tracking number or some other type of number to add legitimacy to their claim.
- Most importantly, contact the police immediately if you believe you are a victim of a telephone scam.