Alert staff stops 'granny scam' in progress

An elderly islander was nearly tricked out of $2,000 when a telephone con man tried to fool her by using the "granny scam."

The scam fell apart, however, after employees at the wire service the island woman used became suspicious about the pending money transfer and halted the transaction before it was finished.

The con job started Friday, March 22 when an elderly woman living near High School Road received a phone call from someone she thought she knew.

The international phone call was from someone claiming to be her grandson, and he said he needed help.

The "grandson" put another man on the phone who said he worked for the American Embassy in Mexico. The man told her that her grandson was arrested in Mexico when he was found in a car that had drugs in it.

In order to spare the grandson from going to jail, the man told her, she would have to wire them $2,140. After the money was received, the grandson would be released, he said.

The man then provided the woman with a routing number to a bank in Haiti.

The woman rushed to her bank and withdrew the money, then went to the nearest American Express to wire the funds to the routing number she had been given.

But the scammers weren't finished. They soon called back and said they provided the wrong bank numbers. They told the woman to go back to American Express and change the order.

Fortunately for the woman, the staff at the American Express office found the transaction to be suspicious and flagged it. The wire was halted and the woman was advised to notify the police.

The woman was able to retrieve her money.

The "granny scam" has been used before on Bainbridge Island. Last August, police warned residents that multiple attempts had been made by people trying to con island seniors out of their money by using the ruse.



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