The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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June 7, 2014

The grandparent scam -- a new twist

I wrote about this scam several times, and when I talk about the scam to public groups, it seems like many people know about it, but I learned today about a new twist, which almost cost a Clinton man $3,000.

A Clinton senior citizen received a phone call from someone who sounded just like his grandson. The grandson said he rode in a car with a friend who got stopped for speeding. The stop led to police finding drugs in the car, and jailing the grandson. He needed $3,000 in bond money to get out, and needed to keep it quiet. So far, this is pretty standard stuff. But the grandson said the arrest happened in Davenport, on his lunchbreak, as he rode back to work. Most of these types of scam calls have the arrest happening in a foreign country, like Mexico, or Panama. Now the real grandson did work in Davenport, so this made the situation sound realistic. A new twist, but a pretty effective one.

And another new twist…The grandson put the arresting officer on the phone. This officer said if the grandparent wanted to keep this quiet, not to go to the Davenport Police Department to post bond, but to handle it by purchasing a Reloadit pre-paid debit card, and loading $3,000 on the card. When the grandparent got this done, he needed to call the officer back. The officer told the grandparent to go to Home Depot to buy this card, and told him not to tell anyone there why he needed the cards.

So the grandparent withdrew $3,000 from his bank, went to Home Depot, and bought $3,000 worth of what looked like Reloadit cards. But they weren’t Reloadit cards. He bought Home Depot gift cards, called Man Cards. When the grandparent called this Davenport officer back and read off the card numbers, the officer told him, “you bought the wrong cards; you need to go back and get Reloadit cards.”

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