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Don't fall for grandparent scam

Sheriff deputies again warn county residents not to fall for what's widely known as "the grandparent scam."

The potential scam starts when a caller calls a county resident to say his or her grandchild is in trouble, and possibly in jail," says County Sheriff Administrative Lt. Keith Van Dyke.

"The next thing the caller says is that your grandchild needs money. This should raise a red flag," says Van Dyke.

Because most grandparents have tender hearts when it comes to their beloved grandchildren, a first tendency is to help.

"This is, in fact, a scam," says Van Dyke. "Each year thousands of seniors fall victim to this scam by sending money to certain locations or making other transactions."

Lately, many scam artists have told grandparents to purchase iTune gift cards Then, once the gift cards are in hand, the scam artists instruct the grandparent to read a card's redemption number.

Oftentimes a grandparent, before bending to the wishes of the scam artist, will use another phone to find out if their grandchild is all right. Then the grandparent hangs up on the scammer and calls the sheriff office.

"Fraudsters don't like questions and want to execute their crimes quickly," says Van Dyke. "They count on fear and concern for your loved one to make you act before you think.

"The more questions you ask the more inclined they will become to ditch the scam (ending the phone call) if they suspect you are on to them."

Sadly, many who fall for this scam attempt are widows or widowers, says Van Dyke. And others who are scammed out of money are on fixed incomes.

Last year consumers reported more than $42 million in losses from scams involving the impersonation of law enforcement, family members and friends.

"If something doesn't seem right, end the call and contact the sheriff's office or local police department," says Van Dyke.