Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Grandson Hoax Scam with Scammers Pretending to Be Grandchild Needing Money from Grandma for Bail

Grandson Scam Western Union Money Transfer Fraud

02/08 - (Kansas) - It's been dubbed the "Grandson Scam" and some in the Wichita area have fallen victim.

Dorothy Burden got a phone call from a man who claimed to be her grandson. He said he was calling from Kansas City and his wallet had been stolen. He needed money for car repairs and would pay her back the next day.

"It made sense at the time," says Burden."I just felt sorry for him." Burden is no easy victim. The 83-year-old surfs the internet and keeps up on the latest scams.

"I was all prepared not to give account numbers or credit card numbers or anything like that over the phone." However, convinced the caller was her grandson, she followed his instructions on how to wire money through Western Union. She sent $800.

"It just makes me mad that I bit on it."

In the past month, Wichita police say 14 people have filed police reports about the same scam. Investigators think more people were probably called and some were likely reluctant to admit they were victimized. For Burden and her family, it was just the beginning.

After sending the money, Burden's phone kept ringing. Her daughter, Carol Carter, believes the same criminals were calling back with a different scheme.

"Could it be someone that knew they got her once that could come back again?"

Carter wanted to end the calls for good. She confronted the person on the line and the calls have stopped for now.

"It just goes to show no matter who you are there's someone out there that can pull your strings," says Carter.

The family hopes their experience makes others aware of how criminals will use heart strings to get to your purse strings.


Grandson Scam Victim Wires Money to Scammer Needing Assistance

01/08 - (Kansas) - The phone rang moments after Edna Baker returned from Bible study Jan. 20.

The caller told her he was her favorite grandson, and his car had broken down while he was in Kansas City. Could he send her $800 for the repairs?

His words made sense to Baker. She did have a grandson she liked to call her favorite, and he had a Jeep that broke down if he drove it too much.

But the more they talked, the less things made sense. He never used his name, and all he really seemed to care about was her credit card number.

"He never did tell me his name or anything," Baker said Tuesday. "That's when I began to say to him, 'Is this on the up-and-up?' "

It wasn't. Baker was one of more than a half-dozen people in Wichita to be called over the past month by someone posing as a grandson needing money, police said Tuesday.

Two of those people did as they were told and wired more than $800 each via Western Union. Baker would have been another victim.

However, she called her daughter to come over and help sort out the situation, and Western Union refused to send the money when herdaughter could not correctly answer a security question.

The next morning, Baker's son-in-law called her grandson. He was home in bed in Wichita, baffled as to why anyone thought he was in Kansas City.

Lt. Hassan Ramzah, who heads the financial crimes section of the Police Department, said the caller has been picking on elderly residents and gives them the name of someone he claims is a friend to send the money to.

The scam is particularly dangerous because it preys on a victim's natural willingness to help a family member in a crisis, he said.

To protect themselves from the scammer, people should ask the caller lots of personal questions that only real family members would know.

That would likely be enough to scare the scammers away, police said.


Grandmother Falls for Fake Grandson Scam, Wires Money via Western Union

03/08 - (Kansas) - It’s a call any grandmother would love to get — at least she believes so when she answers the phone.

“Hi, Grandma, how are you?”

“Is that you, Jimmy?

“Yea, grandma, it’s your grandson Jimmy.”

It’s the grandson she hasn’t heard from for a long time — or so she thinks.

But Jimmy has a problem. He says he has a car in the shop, is getting held up at the bus station or whatever lie a scammer wants to float out there. Jimmy needs money to get home, and has no I.D.

“It’s I got myself into a fix. I lost my billfold, I’m in Kansas City and want to get back home. Could you send me some money?” Newton Police Detective T. Walton said.

And because Jimmy has lost anything with his identification on it, if Grandma would wire the money to Western Union and use the name of his good friend Ed Bailey, Bailey can get the money and give it to Jimmy.

But it’s all a scam, and hundreds of older women have been taken in by the scam.

“They were targeting the elderly, and they were targeting families where the husband was a World War II vet, and a lot of those guys are gone now so it’s widows that are getting taken,” Walton said. “These guys got thousands upon thousands of dollars.”

Until now.

Walton said an investigator in Johnson County has identified who is making those calls and is working to put them behind bars.

And while there is an open case in Newton that is going to be forwarded to Johnson County as part of their case, Walton wonders if there are not more people in the area who got a call and lost some cash.

“They might have been too embarrassed about this to call us,” Walton said. “But if you did get these calls and sent them money, please contact me. I want to help.”

Walton said there is a possibility, though slight, money can be returned. He’s not making any promises.

But he did say the scammers will be prosecuted.

“We want to put these guys away,” Walton said. “We are going to gather up all of our cases and all of Sedgwick County’s cases and send it to Johnson County so they can work it as one large case — which makes sense.”


Senior Scam Dupes Grandparents with Calls for Help Sending Western Union Money Transfers

01/08- (Kansas) - Wichita Police are warning seniors about a new scam that's surfaced in the Wichita area. Lieutenant Hassan Ramzah with the Wichita Police Department Financial Crimes unit says the department has received eight calls from senior citizens since late December.

The potential victims include seven women and one man ages 54-86.

The caller tells the victim that he was their grandson and that his car broke down in Kansas City. The caller asked for them to send some money through Western Union to help.

The man would then give the name of a friend, J.D. Taylor, to wire the money. Two of the reported eight seniors wired the money. One of the wire transfers was for $871 and was picked up in Kansas City. The other transaction was also around $800.

Wichita Police are working with Kansas City Police on the case.

(The Kansas CW)

Chinese Affinity Fraudster Dupes Seniors into Sending Cash

02/08 - (CA) - A San Francisco resident was arrested this morning in connection with a scam that lasted at least 14 months and targeted elderly Chinese victims.

Police said 42-year-old Ken Hue Hua is suspected of calling victims, pretending to be a doctor, relative or friend.

He would then allegedly tell the victims that a family member needed money for car repairs, bail money, fees to the Chinese Embassy or to pay overdue bills.

According to police, Hua would allegedly arrange to have the victims meet him and give him money, a total of almost $11,000 over seven reported cases.

In addition to the seven charged cases, police say another 19 people were victims of the same scam and lost a total of $16,000.

All of the victims were of Chinese descent and most were over 65 years old, police said. The most recent incident took place Monday.

Hua was charged with 24 counts of elder financial abuse and grand and petty theft, including 14 felony counts.

(San Francisco Sentinel)

Grandson Bail Money Scam Defrauds Seniors by Western Union Wire Transfer Fraud

09/08 - (MISSISSIPPI) -- City police are investigating scams in which two senior citizens were bilked out of thousands by wiring money they thought was being sent to bail their grandsons out of a Canadian jail.

Both of the recent cases occurred on the same day, Waveland Police Chief James Varnell said. The victims, both men, notified police after learning they had been victims of fraud.

Varnell said the two men - one 71 and the other 67 - reported they received phone calls from men posing as their grandsons. In each case the caller claimed to be in jail in Ontario, Canada, and asked for bail money.

Both grandfathers complied, wiring cash through Western Union. One sent $6,000 and the other sent $2,900, Varnell said. He said the callers did not tell the victims why they were allegedly in jail.

But "they even knew enough to know the grandfather's name and the grandson's name," Varnell said.

After the money had been wired, both victims were contacted again by the scam artist and asked for the wire transaction number. That allowed the pretenders to claim the cash in Ontario without showing identification, Varnell said.

The victims contacted police after later locating their real grandsons and learning they had not been in jail, and had never been to Canada.

Varnell said there is a chance the scam could be more widespread than is currently known.

"All persons that read this should pass it on to everyone they know," he said. "Make sure that if you receive a call like this, to call the relative mentioned before wiring money to anyone."

Varnell acknowledged it seemed unusual for a scam victim not to know a strange voice on the phone isn't actually his grandchild. But both victims were concerned over the fate of a family member and wanted to help, Varnell said.

The state Attorney General's Office and the FBI have been notified of the scams. The case is being handled locally by Waveland investigator Laura Stepro.

Others who may receive similar calls can reach Stepro at 467-3669.


Police warn of scam that targeted grandma

09/26/09 - Missouri - The Columbia Police Department is reminding people to be cautious about answering e-mails or phone calls from people who ask that money be transferred somewhere using a money gram or wire service.

An 88-year old Columbia woman on Sept. 4 transferred $2,900 to an impersonator identifying himself as her grandson. The caller told her he wanted money to bail himself out of jail in Canada. Police spokeswoman Jessie Haden said such cases are difficult to follow when they cross an international border.

Police Sgt. Dan Beckman said the scams are commonplace.

“We get these all the time,” he said. “It’s almost like they did research and know the name of the grandkid.”

After receiving a second phone call from the impersonator that day requesting an additional $4,800, the woman contacted her son to verify the whereabouts of her grandson and learned she was the victim of a scam.

Beckman said such scams often occur in waves. He advised caution and verifying who is asking for what.

No arrests have been made in the Sept. 4 incident, and the investigation has been turned over to the Secret Service.

(Columbia Daily Tribune)

Grandchild Scam, Grandchild Assistance Scam, Granny Scam