Sheriff's Office warns of 'grandparent' phone scam

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about a phone scam involving callers posing as relatives in need of money.

Although this kind of scam has been around for years, the Sheriff’s Office had received several complaints in recent weeks about such calls locally.

Typically, the scam targets an elderly person’s phone, with the caller posing as a grandchild in jail, in the hospital, or in a foreign country and needing money for bail or emergency medical treatment, Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla said.

In one recent case, a local couple withdrew about $1,700 from their bank account to wire money oversees to someone they thought was their grandson. A savvy bank manager stopped the transaction before the couple lost their money.

To avoid becoming a victim of a scam, the Sheriff’s Office suggests never sending money based on a phone or email request, and to verify that the request is legitimate by contacting the relative or another family member directly before sending money. Callers often pressure the person to act quickly; resist that pressure and verify the authenticity of the call.