Grandparent scam cons man of $6,500

March 30, 2011 9:14:23 PM PDT
Action News has been warning viewers about the grandparent scam for years and now it has happened again.

"I got a call, they said it was [my grandson] Ryan and his voice was the same as Ryan's," Edward Hillman of Torresdale said.

It was Monday morning that Ed received a call from what his caller ID showed was from as a private caller. A man on the other end of the line claimed to be his 25-year-old grandson who told Ed he got into a little bit of trouble on a trip to Spain and needed $3,300 to get out of jail.

Hillman had him on speaker phone so his daughter, Lorraine Woodington, could listen in.

"And he said, 'Don't tell anybody, I'm so embarrassed about this, I don't want anybody to know, I will explain everything when I get home.' It sounded just like him, I would have never ever known at all," Woodington said.

So Hillman did as the caller instructed and went to the Western Union facility at a nearby Kmart on Frankford Avenue and doled out $3,300 to be wired to whom he thought was his grandson. Later, he got another call from the impersonator:

"He said he got out on bail, but he's being fined $3,200 and I would have to send it for him to get out of the country," Hillman said.

So this time, Hillman goes to Western Union at the Pathmark store on Frankford Avenue and wired another $3,200 over to Madrid, Spain.

Later, he called his real grandson to make sure he got home OK.

"And he didn't know what I was talking about," Hillman said.

At this point, Hillman knew he'd been duped.

"These people must be very good; they must practice and be able to imitate people's voices," Hillman said.

"It's easy for me to say, 'Well, that wouldn't happen to me or I would have known, would have called someone,' but you had to be there, he sounded just like him," Woodington said.

Hillman is but the latest victim to fall for this scam targeting the elderly. It's been happening all over the tri-state area and all victims say the same thing - the scammers tell a well-crafted, convincing story that they're in some kind of trouble and need cash.

"The funny part of it is, I never answer private callers and I picked it up and I don't know why," Hillman said.

The FBI is now looking into the case.

A tip for those who might feel they are in this sort of situation, if you get such a call asking you for money, hang up and call that family member directly, dialing the number that you know is theirs.