Several reports of telephone scam artists pretending to be need a family member asking for money has prompted the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office to issue a warning to all county residents.
Many scam artists pose as a relative in trouble and request that money be transferred to them via Western Union.
One scammer pretended to be the victim’s grandson and was able to receive $20,000 of wired money. He told the unknowing grandfather that he was in Italy, had been in a car accident, his nose was broken and he had two black eyes. He asked the victim not to contact his mother because she would be upset. He promised he would tell her about the incident when he got home.
After making the wire transfers, the victim finally did contact his daughter and he was told that his grandson was never involved in an accident nor was he out of the country.
In another case the suspect again posed as the victim’s grandson, said he was involved in an accident in Spain and he had a broken nose and arm. He asked his grandmother to wire him $2,300 so he could get out of the country. The grandmother called her son to verify this and found out that her grandson was attending college in Sacramento.
In all of the reported cases the suspect is posing as a grandson who is saying he is out of the country, is injured and is requesting money. One of the scam artists persuaded the victim not to contact other family members to verify the suspect’s story.
The Sheriff’s Office wants to remind everyone that wire transfers are like bank accounts; they can be accessed anywhere. Just because the suspect says he is in Florence, Italy, does not mean he cannot access the money from Redwood City, San Francisco or any other place in the world.
The Sheriff’s office added that residents should always confirm everything about the story with family members to avoid being taken advantage of, and report the crime to your local law enforcement agency.