10 fall for 'grandparent' phone scam

City News Service

At least 10 Oceanside residents have fallen prey over the last week to a telephone scam in which a crook gets the victim to wire him cash by posing as a grandchild in financial straits abroad, police advised Friday.

In each case, a male caller poses as a someone's actual relative, identifying himself by name, and claims to be out of the United States and in urgent need of cash, according to Lt. Leonard Mata. A similar scam has been reported in La Jolla and other San Diego neighborhoods in recent months.

"The family member is asked to send money via Western Union to the courts, legal representative or friend for bail,'' Mata said.

The swindler then provides callback information so the victim can reveal a tracking number for the transaction.

"This is the only information required by the receiver to pick up the funds at any Western Union location in the world,'' the lieutenant said. "No ID is necessary as long as they have the (numerical code).''

Each of the victims has told police the con artist sounds like the actual loved one specified by name. Victims have sent amounts ranging from $1,000 to $3,500 to Mexico, Canada and the Dominican Republic.

Another 10 to 20 Oceanside residents have gotten the same type of call but did not fall for the scam, according to Mata.

Police advise residents to thoroughly check into any such requests for financial help from a supposed family member.

"If people are receiving these types of telephone calls, (they should) take the time to confirm the identity of the caller and verify the whereabouts of their grandchildren ... before any type of funds are sent,'' Mata said.

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