An old scam targeting elderly residents is making a comeback according to Helena-West Helena Police Chief Virgil Green. The scheme attempts to use their own relatives to swindle them out of money.

An old scam targeting elderly residents is making a comeback according to Helena-West Helena Police Chief Virgil Green. The scheme attempts to use their own relatives to swindle them out of money.

“The scam begins with something most grandparents don’t get enough of,” commented Green, “a phone call from a grandchild, or the caller says. But it almost always ends up with a desperate plea for money.”

Green reported Thursday morning that the scam was tried right here in Helena-West Helena. According to Green people frequently hear of such scams on the Memphis, Little Rock or national news. Typically, he says, the grandparents get a call from a grandson informing them that they have been arrested and needs bail money to get out of jail. The grandparents then send thousands of dollars only later to discover this was not the case and are bilked out of their money.

“This is a typical call a grandparent will get,” reports Green. “ ‘Hey, how are you? Hi grandma, hi grandpa, I’m in a bit of trouble right now. If I tell you, just keep it between us, I’m on vacation, but I got into a little accident and I was arrested for DUI. Things got a little out of control and I need you to send me the money.’”

According to Green, typical scammers target people over age 65 because they are more gullible, they are at home and more accessible. They believe once they get the victim emotionally involved they believe the grandparent will do anything. Green added that most scammers will pretend to be a law enforcement official or a bail bond agent trying to get their grandson out of jail.

The caller, said Green, is able to share information about the grandson that is so convincing that the grandparents wind up following the instructions and sending the money to a fake location.

Anyone who uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to post personal information can easily fall prey to these unscrupulous scammers.

“Every time you post a picture about where you are, a scammer has everything they need about you,” said Green. “They look at your family pictures and find a name and the rest is easy to find a phone number for your grandparent or parents.”

Green said the recent scam attempt with a grandparent in Helena-West Helena involved the grandparent wiring the money. They called their daughter to report what had happened only to discover the grandson wasn’t in jail but at home.

“These grandparents were among the fortunate ones,” stated Green. “The scammers hadn’t picked up the funds, thus allowing the grandparents to cancel the electronic funds transaction.

The Helena-West Helena Police Department reminds residents to not send money to people they do not know and do not give out personal information, including relative’s names over the phone.

“If you get a funny feeling that something isn’t right, tell the caller that you are calling the local police to make sure the person is in jail, even if they claim it is in another state or out of the country,” commented Green. “Hang up and call our Communications Center at 870-572-3441 to check the validity of the call. Our dispatchers can verify if that person is in jail.”

H-WHPD encourages anyone who may have received a scam call, to call the police department and report it.