An elderly Benicia couple nearly became victims of a money transfer scam after someone claiming to be their grandson called and said he was in jail in the Philippines and needed cash, a police lieutenant said today. The call came in Monday, and the “grandson” said he had been jailed for a DUI accident, Benicia police Lt. Frank Hartig said.
The caller told the couple his lawyer would be calling them with instructions, and 15 minutes later a male claiming to be their grandson’s attorney called, Hartig said. The “lawyer” asked the couple to send $2,500 in two separate transactions via Western Union so that the Philippine government would not suspect that the transaction was drug-related, Hartig said. The grandfather said the caller sounded like his grandson, and the couple wired $2,500 through Western Union, Hartig said.
On Tuesday, the couple received another call from the “attorney,” who asked the couple to send an additional $4,200. He said their grandson could not be released on bail because a woman claimed he had injured her in the DUI crash, Hartig said. The couple agreed to send the money, but the grandmother then called her grandson’s cellphone and learned he was still in the United States and had not been in the Philippines, Hartig said. The couple was able to cancel the money transfers and did not suffer a loss, Hartig said.
While a police officer was at the couple’s home investigating the incident, the scammer again called back, but the caller hung up after the officer spoke to him on the phone, Hartig said. The call had come in from a blocked number. Police are reminding residents who encounter similar scams to contact the relative claiming to need the money, and to get a call-back number and call it to confirm it is a legitimate number. “Obtain as much information as possible to confirm that your family member is truly the one in need of assistance,” Hartig said. Anyone suspecting a scam is advised to call police.
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