Doylestown, Pa - A scam being conducted in our area is targeting grandparents and preying on their love and concern for their grandchildren.
At 9 a.m. one morning Dr. Stanley Peters received a call from someone claiming to be his granddaughter from Michigan saying she'd had a run-in with an unreasonable police officer in Philadelphia.
"And he said, 'Well I'm going to put you in jail for a week because you're not supposed to drive with cell phones,'" explained Dr. Peters.
He was told to help his granddaughter avoid jail, he needed to get cash from the bank, then buy gift cards from Target and pass along the numbers on those cards to law enforcement.
"The people in Target came up, some of the young girls, and said don't do that," he said.
But being concerned about his granddaughter's well-being, he bought the cards anyway, 4-thousand-dollars' worth. Then a friend of his told him he had been scammed.
"Everything that I shouldn't have done, I did," he said.
Dr. Peters was told not to contact his granddaughter's parents or local police but after talking to his friend he decided to call the Doylestown Township police department.
"Unfortunately one of the cards had already been used. But we were able to save 2-thousand-dollars for Mr. Peters. He got half his money back," said Officer Shaun Magee.
Officer Magee says that's rare, far too often these stories do not have a happy ending. It's estimated that scammers rob senior citizens of about 3-billion-dollars a year in financial scam. He says there are a number of red flags to keep in mind.
"Any federal agency is not going to keep you on the phone. They're going to allow you to call back. They're going to give you a contact number or a claim number or some sort of reference number to reference this again," he explained.
And a legitimate agency will never tell you not to contact your loved ones or police.
"The other big flag for people is none of these agencies take gift cards as compensation," he said.
If you feel that you have fallen victim to the grandparent scam please contact your local police department or the Federal Trade Commission.
or call 1877-908-3360 or 1-877-382-4357.
More information on the Grandparent Scam can be found at AARP.
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