Newport News couple scammed out of $12,000

Posted at 11:47 PM, Jul 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-03 05:55:06-04

Newport News, Va. - A convincing scam cost an elderly couple $12,000.

Two peole in their 70s didn't want to be identified.  It started with a phone call in the middle of the afternoon. "I received a phone call and the voice sound like my grandson," said one of the victims, a 77-year-old man. "He said, 'I'm in jail,' and that he needed my help."

Pulled by the heartstrings, the grandfather began sending in money to pay for requests like a lawyer, even a psychiatrist.

"It was my grandson. I was convinced it was my grandson," the grandfather said. "There was no doubt in my mind mind that person I talked to was my grandson."

But it wasn't, according to police. The couple fell victim to what Newport News police call the "grandparents scam" and they say it happens more often than you think. Callers are so professional and convincing they can bully their victims into sending them money.

The scammers told the grandfather to begin purchasing "Reloadit Cards" from Food Lion. The grandfather bought several of the prepaid cards and gave the scammers ID  numbers on the back of the cards. The ruse was the scammers needed the money immediately to help the grandson and couldn't wait for a check to be mailed.

The scammers knew the right buttons to push, according to the couple. The caller sounded like their 28-year-old grandson on the phone and was with a man, who identified himself as a law enforcement officer. The scammers also told the couple their grandson didn't want anyone to know about his criminal trouble, so they kept it quiet for a while, even after he supposedly got out of jail.

Eventually, they became skeptical and asked their grandson about the jail time. "He said, 'I wasn't in jail. I've never been in jail in my life,'" said the 76-year old grandmother. "I felt like I've been taken," said the grandfather.

NewsChannel 3 attempted to call the number for the scammers. The 866-number went to an automated voicemail.

The couple says they have a message for the ones who took advantage of them. "I hope you rot in hell."