Police Alert Public to Phone Scam
July 29, 2011
The Oceanside Police Department is asking the public to be aware of a telephone scam that is targeting elderly grandparents.
In the past week approximately 10 victims (all senior citizens) have received phone calls in the late evening/early morning hours from a male caller claiming to be their loved one who is out of the country and in the custody of law enforcement officials. The family member is asked to send money via Western Union to the courts, legal representative, or friend for bail. This information is provided to the victim. Once the money is wired, the victim is usually provided a call back number so that they can provide the MTCN (Western Union tracking number) to the suspects. This is the only information required by the receiver to pick up the funds at any Western Union location in the world. No ID is necessary as long as they have the MTCN.
All the victims have indicated that the voice on the other end of the phone sounds like the voice of their loved one. The caller also identifies himself as the family member by name. In addition to the actual reports, we have had approximately 10-20 calls or visits from seniors who were contacted by the scammers but didn't actually fall victim.
In the past week, victims have sent money to Mexico, Santiago (Dominican Republic), and Quebec Canada. Amounts sent range from $1,000 to $3,500.
If people are receiving these types of telephone calls, please take the time to confirm the identity of the caller and verify the whereabouts of their grandchildren with their parents before any type of funds are sent.