Phone scams targeting SLO County residents, officials warn

acornejo@thetribunenews.comMay 13, 2013 

Local law enforcement officials are warning about two telephone scams that have targeted local residents recently.

A scam aimed at elderly residents has resulted in more than $130,000 lost in the last two weeks, according to the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

Police said the scam, known as the “Grandparent Scam,” often goes like this: An elderly victim will get a phone call from someone claiming to be a grandchild or other relative. The caller will tell the victim that they have been arrested in a foreign country or have been in an accident and are in need of money for bail or medical expenses. Often, a second person will pretend to be a lawyer, doctor or other official who will tell the victim how to send the money, usually via Western Union or Money Gram. Victims are told not to discuss the transfer of money with family members or are given instructions on what to say at financial institutions if asked about the transfer.

In two recent cases, more than $80,000 and $50,000 was transferred via wire service to Canada and Mexico, police said.

In a second scam, a Nipomo resident on Thursday received a phone call from a person who claimed to be a representative of the "National Health Association," according to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office.

The caller said the organization was going to send a new medical card to the resident and asked for the resident's checking account number and other personal information. The resident, sensing the call was a scam, began asking questions about the organization, and the caller got agitated and hung up, the Sheriff's Office said.

The Sheriff's Office reminds residents to never give out personal information over the phone unless you initiate the call and know the person or organization.

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