Latest scam preys on grandparents

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A new scam to hit the area has already cost at least two people a lot of money because of their concern for their grandchildren.
Tupelo Police Detective Capt. Chuck Bunn said the “grandfather scam” has been a popular one in other parts of the country but is new to Tupelo.
According to Bunn, the theft works this way:
Scammers call the victim, usually an elderly person, with news that his or her grandchild has been arrested elsewhere for driving under the influence and damaging a rental car.
The caller, claiming to be the grandchild’s friend or attorney, then requests about $2,500 to cover the bail and the car repairs.
The victim is told to send money Western Union and the grandchild will call after being released form jail.
In Tupelo, the two victims sent the money but then called their grandsons to find that they never were never arrested and had no knowledge of any incident.
Police don’t know how the scam artist gets the victim’s personal information, including that they have grandchildren who live out of town, and where the scams are coming from.
“I’m sure some kind of research is taking place to obtain this information,” said Bunn, “but I’m not sure what that research is. These people can be from anywhere in the world but we doubt they are from our area.”
Bunn said this is the third or fourth different scam to hit the area in the past couple of months.
“Most trends don’t start in Mississippi but they usually end up here and this type of scam is no different,” said Bunn. “So we are not immune to being victims of these scams because if it works somewhere else it will work here, so people need to protect themselves the best way they can.”

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.