Con artist poses as grandson to swindle Beach man out of hundreds

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jun 19, 2012

It's a scary thought: a loved one overseas and in trouble, needing money immediately.  That's the premise of a phone scam that hit home for one Virginia Beach grandfather last week.

The 92-year-old man received a call from a blocked number, supposedly from his grandson. The caller said he was stuck in Spain and in trouble.

"He said that he was in jail because he was in a car that they pulled over and it had drugs," said the grandfather who did not want NewsChannel 3 to air his name.  "He wanted me to wire him $900 and said I'll pay you back."

Grandpa told the caller he couldn't drive, something his grandson would know.  So, the grandfather got suspicious.

"The more he talked it, it didn't sound like it was something [my grandson] would do," he said.

As it turned out, his grandson was safe and sound in Virginia Beach.  The caller was a con artist with a scam that's been squeezing thousands of dollars out of elderly people for years. But not this grandpa.

"I guess some people fall for that," he said.  "But I didn't."

According to the Federal Trade Commission, more than 73,000 people were targeted by these scams last year, but there's a new trick to the old scam.  Con artists are researching Facebook pages so they can call and identify themselves as family members by name.

"We're seeing a real rise in these kinds of scams," said David Vladeck with the FTC.

"Once [the money is] wired, it evaporates," said Vladeck.  "There's no way for us to get it back."