Prince George’s County police are warning about a phone scam targeting senior citizens.
They said they’ve received three reports in the past month, and, in at least two cases, the scammers managed to steal thousands of dollars from their victims.
Authorities called it the “Grandparent scam” and said it's a scheme that’s been reported around the country.
The swindlers tend to have a similar method, according to police. They call a victim and pretend to be one of their grandchildren or their children. The impostor claims to have been involved in a serious incident, for example, a car crash, or say they’ve been arrested. Then, they give the victim the number of a lawyer they should contact before hanging up.
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Once the worried victims call up the supposed lawyer, they persuade the victims to give them large sums of cash to help their grandchild.
The suspect or an associate then goes to the victim’s home to pick up the money.
Police released Wednesday the testimony of a woman in her 70s from Lanham, Maryland, who they said was a victim of the scam.
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In a video, she said she received a call from someone claiming to be her oldest grandson.
“He said he had been in an accident. He said, ‘I’m a good person, I don’t want this to go on my record,’” she said. He asked her not to tell his parents and instead gave her a purported lawyer's number.
“The lawyer called me back on my landline, and he explained that there had been an accident, that my grandson had been injured slightly, [that] he was being held in jail. The bail was $12,500,” the victim shared in the video.
She withdrew the money, and one of the scammers then quickly went to her house to pick it up.
The victim said she later realized it had been a fraud after talking about it with her husband and calling her grandson, who told her he was fine.
“They keep manipulating you,” she said. “You get so wrapped up in trying to protect your family that you lose sight of the intelligence God gave you.”
She urged people to always check with their loved ones before taking any action when receiving calls like this.
Surveillance cameras captured an image of a suspect, and police are asking the public’s help to identify him.
He’s linked to at least three scams in the county, police said.
Maryland State Police's Cumberland Barrack also said they've received at least two reports of the scam since Feb 3. In those cases, the victims lost $9,200 and $15,000 respectively.