Bail money phone scam targets grandparents who love their grandkids a little too much
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) -- From the second Bob Stephens picked up the phone Friday morning, he had a feeling something wasn't quite right.
Yet, for the next several minutes, he was convinced he was speaking to his only grandson, Matt, who told him a story about an out-of-state wedding reception, a car accident, a DUI and a need for bail money.
"He said, Grandpa, this is Matt," Stephens recalled to NewsChannel 4. "None of my grandkids — nor my great grandkids — has ever called me Grandpa. They call me Paw Paw."
But, out of concern for his grandson, Stephens continued to listen to the story.
"By the end, I was calling him Matt, so I feel like I was actually taken in a little bit," he said. "This one is pretty convincing, yeah, and I can see how people can be swayed into sending money."
The AARP said it's a common scam making the rounds, targeting senior citizens with a love for their grandchildren.
In some cases, scammers may have stolen or bought information that makes them sound more convincing.
In other cases, they wait for the person on the other end of the phone to give their grandchild's name (i.e. "Matt, is that you?").
But, in all cases, the scammer is trying to get money, asking the victim to wire money to post bond - without notifying a parent or another relative.
"He says 'I need your help, because I needed to call somebody I can trust,'" Stephens recalled. "I stopped him right there and said 'Matt, you need to call your mom and dad.' He said 'no, no, that would be too embarrassing.'"
Out of principle, Stephens said he would not have sent money, anyway.
"If you had any kinds of problems when you were young and you called my dad, he would either hang up on you or say 'That's too bad. You got yourself into it, you get out of it,'" Stephens said. "That's the way I was raised."
But, it was still convincing enough he felt the need to call his daughter and then warn others.
"I told her I just got a call from Matt, and I told her what was going on and she said it wasn't Matt, because Matt's here," he said. "Some of the older people are more gullible. You just don't like to see these people keep taking advantage."
The AARP recommends staying calm and hanging up to consult other family members before taking action.
Sometimes, asking someone on the other line for information like an address or a phone number can deter the scammers, too.