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San Diego County D.A. warns elderly about 'grandma scam'

June 15, 2011 |  1:54 pm

Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis and a "grandma scam" victim, identified only as Annamma
The elderly in San Diego County should beware of the "grandma scam" that takes advantage of their affection for their grandchildren, Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis said Wednesday.

In the scam, an older person receives a call saying that one of his or her grandchildren is in trouble in a foreign country -- possibly due to an accident or run-in with police -- and desperately needs money. The caller, often posing as the grandchild, tells the victim to wire the money and to keep quiet, lest it hinder the chances that they can can be helped.

Two dozen people in San Diego County have been victimized in the past two years, losing $141,482, officials said. One tip-off that the call is a scam is the request to wire money to a foreign country, often Mexico, Canada or China. The warning to remain quiet is another indication.

Officials believe that in most cases, older people do not report the incident once they realize they've been scammed.

"They are too embarrassed and would rather lose the money rather than run the risk of their family finding out," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Greenwood.


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Photo: Dist. Atty. Bonnie Dumanis and a "grandma scam" victim, identified only as Annamma. Credit: San Diego County District Attorney's office