DARIEN, CONN. -- Darien police are warning residents of a recent scam in which the elderly are targeted by fake "grandsons."
The scam includes someone pretending to be a male relative, usually a grandson, police said in a post on their website. Scammers sometimes locate their elderly victims using a phone book to look for people with older sounding names such a Ethel or Henry, police said.
The caller may bait the victim into saying the name of an actual relative by pretending the telephone connection is bad, police said. Once the scammer has obtained the name of a relative, they claim to have been arrested on a minor charge in another country, usually Canada or Mexico, police said.
The scammer will then ask the prospective victim to send bond money via Western Union or other similar service, police said. Once the money is picked up by the scammer, it is nearly impossible to trace, police said.
A Harbor Road resident reported falling victim to the scam Thursday. The woman got a call from a man claiming to be “William Butler,” an attorney from Ontario, Canada.
The caller said that the woman’s granddaughter had been arrested for driving under the influence there, and needed money for bail, according to police reports. She also talked to a young woman impersonating the granddaughter, police said.
The Darien woman followed the scammer’s instructions and wired $490 to Canada that day. She then discovered that she had been scammed when her granddaughter came to visit, according to police reports.
To combat this scam, police suggest:
- Get the full name of the relative supposedly in custody, the name of the law enforcement agency, the name or badge number of the arresting officer, and the criminal charge(s) the relative is being held on. Any legitimate police agency will release this information. Upon asking these questions, the caller may hang up or pretend not to hear you because of a bad connection.
- Do not call the phone number given by the caller to verify whether it is a real call.
- Do look up the agency phone number online or call the Darien Police Department. Our dispatch can confirm whether your relative has truly been arrested abroad.
- Do not under any circumstances wire money, provide a credit card number, or give electronic access to your checking account! Here at the Darien Police Department, we only take cash or surety bonds. This is standard procedure in other countries like Canada.