By Pat Maurer
Both Clare County Sheriff John Wilson and Isabella County Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski are warning area seniors to “beware” of an old telephone scam that has resurfaced in the area.
A Farwell resident, who did not wish to be named, reported that her mother, who lives in a senior complex there, had received a phone call from someone claiming to be her oldest grandson. The caller claimed to have been in an accident with a rental vehicle in Mexico, where he had gone to attend a friend’s wedding. Since he said he didn’t purchase insurance with the rental, he had to pay $2,000 to settle the insurance claim. He urged the lady to send the money right away. When she said she had no way to raise the money, the caller hung up.
Sheriff John Wilson said he didn’t know of any complaints of “scam” calls in Clare County recently, but there had been several some time ago.
“My pastor’s mother was all set to send money to Canada for her grandson, but luckily was talked out of it by her son, who told her it was a scam,” Wilson said.
He added, “They always seem to prey on older people and retirees, who seem to be more trusting.”
The callers sometimes claim that a grandchild has been arrested and the money should be sent to pay a bond so they can get out of jail.
That’s what happened to Sheriff Mioduszewski’s father. “He got a call about two months ago,” Mioduszewski said. “The caller claimed that one of my sons had been arrested. Luckily my dad knew enough to call me before he sent any money. Some older people might not have anyone they can talk to if they get this type of call.”
He urged anyone contacted with a story like this to remember as much about the caller as they can, and before they agree to send any money, to contact a member of the family to see if the information is true. If someone is asking for bond money, they can get the court’s name and address and verify it that way by making a phone call.”
He said there isn’t much that law enforcement can do, unless money is sent. “No crime, or fraud has occurred until people actually send money to the caller,” he said. “Then it is fraud.”
“There are a lot of scams out there,” he said. “99 percent of the time, that type of a call is a scam. If you are called, you need to get all of the information you can including the number of the caller, then contact family members before you act and ask if any of the children are in a foreign country. A little prevention can go a long way. Be real skeptical of any call asking for money to be wired anywhere or requesting personal information or account numbers. Never give that information out over the phone.”