Scammers target senior citizens

June 18, 2009 3:35:58 PM PDT
Scammers are trying to take advantage of senior citizens in Delaware. Their scheme preys on grandparents' concern for their grandchildren. When 81-year-old Bill Thompson picked up the phone last week he never dreamed he was among the countless senior citizens targeted in a growing scam. This one was a bogus call from his grandson

"I said what's the matter and he said 'I got to have your help, but don't tell anybody. I'm so embarrassed.' Well, I immediately got concerned," Thompson said.

Thompson's grandson Ryan is now an NFL assistant coach. This hard of hearing senior almost fell for the story that his grandson had been arrested for fishing in Canada without a license and desperately needed more than $2,800 wired for a fine, but he did question why the Ryan on the phone didn't call him by his nickname, Dad-Boat.

"I said 'why are you calling me grandfather' and he said.

'Well, I'm in a public place and I really need your help," Thompson said.

After accidentally leaving the phone off the hook, Thompson lost contact with the scammer and was able to learn his real grandson was at work. That's when he called Newark police.

"It's highly unlikely [that we'll catch them] which is why we're trying to get the word out that if you get one of these phone calls, don't fall for it, hang up," Lt. Brian Henry of the Newark Police Department said.

Newark Police investigated one other similar case this month but fortunately that victim like Mr. Thompson never sent the scammers a dime, but other area police agencies have victims who didn't catch on until it was too late.

"Unfortunately, we did have at least one who wired about $3500 to a location in Canada," Trinidad Navaroo of the New Castle County Police said.

So far about ten phone scam cases have been reported in Delaware this year, that's why Bill Thompson wants to warn fellow seniors to beware.

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