US$300,000 ‘grandparent scam’ convinced victims that relatives had been arrested, US feds say


The scammers contacted older adults while posing as family members of arrested individuals seeking cash for bail payments, according to a Feb 27 news release from the US Attorney for Rhode Island. — AFP

Three men swindled over a dozen older adults in Rhode Island out of thousands of dollars in a “grandparent scam”, federal officials said. They are going to prison.

The trio contacted older adults in the state, posing as family members of arrested individuals seeking cash for bail payments, according to a Feb 27 news release from the US Attorney for Rhode Island.

Often they said the arrested individual was their grandchild and that they were in “immediate” need of assistance, prosecutors said.

Victims were told to give cash to a courier who stopped at their homes, officials said. In total, at least 14 people were affected by the scam, which resulted in US$304,081 in losses.

An attorney for the men could not immediately be contacted for comment by McClatchy News.

The con was eventually brought to the attention of the Department of Homeland Security, according to the release.

The men accused of being involved – ages 22, 22 and 40 – pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in July.

They were sentenced to between 30 and 33 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution on Feb 24, officials said.

Older adults, who can be viewed as more trusting and polite, are often targeted for scams, according to the FBI. In 2021, more than 92,000 victims of fraud were over the age of 60, representing an increase from the previous year. – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service

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