In two separated instances Sept. 17 and Sept. 18, residents were contacted by phone by someone claiming to be a grandson accused of DWI while traveling far from home – Mexico in the first case and Reno, Nevada, in the second.
Authorities said the victims wired a total of nearly $3,000 to the callers, who claimed the funds were needed for bail money. A Western Union agent stopped the first victim from sending a second payment of $1,400, according to police.
The detective bureau is investigating both cases.
The calls fit the mold of what
authorities have referred to as the “grandparent scam,” in which, often using
personal information readily accessible on social media, the caller poses as an elderly victim's loved one in need of an emergency wire transfer.
“Calls are made to the victims claiming to be their grandchild in jail,” the department said in a release. “The caller usually requests that bail money be wired via Western Union to post bail. A short time later a second call [comes] requesting more money for an attorney. The victims find out later that their grandchild is at home and not in jail.”
Police warn residents not to wire money without making personal contact with other family members. Due to the immediacy of wire transfers and because scams are often operated internationally and out of the jurisdiction of local police, it is uncommon for victims to retrieve their money.
Suspicious calls can be reported to the Ridgewood Police Department at 201-652-3900.