Grandparents say they were targets of phone scam

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The phone rings, you pick it up, and it's someone saying they're your loved one on the other end of the line but something isn't right.

"I didn't recognize the person on the phone. Then the voice said, 'Oh, you don't recognize your oldest grandson?'" Philip Mossman, had that happen Wednesday morning, "It certainly didn't sound like Andrew."

Mossman, whose grandson is a student at UK, spoke to WKYT via FaceTime laying out the concerning call. He said the call came in from an unknown number, and while he was sure it wasn't his grandson, the caller said he sounded different because he was calling from a pay phone at the jail.

"The story began with, 'Please, don't tell mom and dad.'"

That was the plea the person on the phone kept saying. As the story went, the person claiming to Mossman's grandson, had been arrested and was waiting for trial in Delaware. He said he was charged for being drunk and needed help, $1,800 to be exact. His supposed lawyer then got on the phone with specific details about how to wire the money to them. For this grandfather, none of this set well, and it all started with the secrecy.

"Within our family, our grandkids will certainly talk to their parents," he explained.

"The scenario you described carries all of the hallmarks of the 'Grandparent Scam,'" stated Heather Clary of the Lexington Better Business Bureau.

From the BBB, to the FBI, to the State Department warnings are out about this "Grandparent Scam."

"Anytime any scenario requires you to immediately wire money somewhere, the red flag should go up in your head," said Clary.

For the Mossmans, the red flag went up before they went too far along with the scammers. Mossman said it was all too well rehearsed, but he said he can see how others might buy into the routine.

"It was almost as though it was read from a script," he described, adding the con artists would keep the conversation moving quickly and would change the subject if he asked a question.

After that call, Mossman made one more to Andrew's family.

"He had a class this morning, went out to practice golf, and he has another a class right there, in Lexington," relayed Mossman after learning his grandson was no where near Delaware and no where near a jail cell.

However, he got one more laugh at the scammers expense. Per the arrangement, the caller tried Mossman again at noon to insure the money was sent. The caller wanted the money to go to Wilmington, Delaware. Mossman told the scammers he had sent the money to Wilmington, North Carolina accidentally. Mossman said the caller quickly urged him to fix the supposed mistake. Without missing a beat, Mossman said he would instead call the Sheriff's office in Wilmington, Delaware and the caller can go there to try and claim the money. The caller hung up.

The Better Business Bureau offered these tips to people in this situation. One idea is to ask the caller a question that only a true family member would know. Then after the call, try and contact that person directly to see if they truly did need your help.

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