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By KEVIN KOELLING
TELL CITY – Tell City’s Louise Foster felt suspicious when someone called and claimed he was her grandson.
He had gone to Cancun with a friend named Steve, went snorkeling and was having a great time, the caller said. That is, until they met some guys, went out on the town and got into a fight.
Her “grandson,” Foster said, was taken to jail, then to the embassy, and now needed $400 to $500 to get home.
The FBI lists at its Web site, www.fbi.gov, several similar tales used to separate grandparents or other family members from their cash. The common theme is that young people are in trouble and need cash fast.
Foster said she just turned 87 and was concerned about people preying on older people. The FBI says they’re a common target, and the predators are becoming increasingly sophisticated. They often gather information from social-networking sites, for example, that tell them someone makes regular trips to Mexico or is in the military and ran into trouble while on leave.
“I know my grandkids too well,” Foster said, which made her suspicious from the beginning of the call. “I asked for my grandson’s name, and they didn’t know it,” she said, explaining they claimed to have 22 inmates and couldn’t possibly know all of their names. Her caller ID displayed no number, she said, adding to her suspicions.
“I’m trying to help older people who might fall for it,” Foster told the News. “People ought to be aware this is going on. I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of providing any information.”
She had heard of the scams, she said, so this caller found himself on the line with “a grandma who’s up on things,” she boasted.
To avoid being scammed, the FBI advises anyone receiving such a call to resist the pressure to act quickly.
“Try to contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate,” they urge, and “never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail, especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash. Once you send it, you can’t get it back.”