Deputies warn of 'grandparent scam'

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Two central Florida grandmothers lost money in a "scam" when someone called pretending to be a grandchild in need of cash to get out of trouble.

A 78-year-old Deltona woman recently lost $50,500 and an 82-year-old New Smyrna Beach woman lost $1,500 in the "grandparent scam," according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's spokesman Brandon Haught is warning the public not to fall victim to such phone calls.

"The fake grandchild asks for money to be sent to him or her in another country or state where the person was supposedly arrested or in a car crash," according to Haught.

Once the money is wired, the money and the suspect disappear. "Then the victim later finds out that the real grandchild was never in trouble or even in the place the money was sent to," he added.

The Deltona grandmother received a call in June from someone who claimed to be her grandson. The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the caller said he had been in a car verses house accident and needed $5,000 to bond out of a jail in South America. She wired the money to South America.

Over the next few weeks, a man claiming to be the grandson's lawyer called the victim for more money to cover mounting legal expenses and to pay the homeowner whose house was damaged.

"Finally she called her grandson directly and learned that he wasn't the one who had called her," Haught said.

In the second case, a man claiming to be the victim's grandson called, saying he had been in an accident and had been arrested for driving under the influence in New York.

According to authorities, the woman said the young man sounded "exactly like" her grandson. She believed him when he asked for $1,800 to cover fees.

She sent the money order and later that day contacted her grandson to find out how he was. She learned he had never been in New York.

The sheriff's office is warning people not to fall victim to scammers. They encourage anyone who is a victim of a scam to report it to authorities.

"Before even thinking about sending money anywhere, contact the grandchild or other relative to see if the emergency story can be verified or debunked," Haught said. "Keep in mind that once money is sent through wire transfer, it's gone. There is no getting it back."

Finally, she learned her grandson had never asked for money.

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