Sheriff's Office helps 84-year-old scam victim get his $55,000 back

An 84-year-old Atascadero man initially swindled out of $55,000 in a phone scam had his money returned, thanks to a San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s detective.

On Tuesday, the man received a phone call from a man claiming to be an attorney representing the man’s grandson, claiming he had been in a car accident and needed $5,000 to bail out if jail — a common ruse known as the “Grandparent Scam,” according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.

The man did what officials tell residents to do when they receive those calls: He tried to contact his grandson (but was unsuccessful) and looked up the name of the attorney online (which he found). Thinking the call was legitimate, he placed the money into a bank account provided by the caller, the Sheriff’s Office said.

After that transaction, the scammer called again, this time claiming a police officer involved in the crash died from his injuries and he now required $50,000 to keep the grandson out of trouble.

The grandson called his grandfather back shortly after that transaction and told him there was no accident, at which point the Sheriff’s Office was notified.

With evidence provided by the alleged victim, Sheriff’s Detective David Marquez traced the bank accounts to Las Vegas and Texas, and persuaded the banks to place a hold on the deposited money, which was then returned.