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Binghamton woman caught in “grandparents scam”

By William Moyer

BINGHAMTON — The so-called “grandparents scam” bilked its first local victim.

Binghamton police said an elderly woman lost $3,565 Wednesday after she wired the money to a scammer who claimed the 85-year old grandmother’s grandson was in jail and needed bail.

A similar scam was attempted Wednesday on an elderly woman in Vestal, but police foiled it before the grandmother, 89, lost the $2,400 she had withdrawn from her account to help her grandson whom the caller said was involved in a car accident in England.

In the Binghamton case, Sgt. Dennis Redner said the city woman was called late Wednesday afternoon by a man who identified himself as Officer Ben Walker. He wanted the money to pay bail for her grandson who was arrested in Ontario, Canada. She was instructed to send the money to David Odle, identified as a bail bondsman, via Western Union in Madrid.

In the Vestal case, the scammer called himself Johnny.

By the time the Binghamton woman contacted her real grandson in Chicago — and learned he was ok — and then called city police at 8:41 p.m. Wednesday, it was too late. The money had been claimed.

“These guys are doing their homework on the computer,” said Redner. “They even used the grandson’s name.”

Police want anyone who gets a similar call to immediately terminate the conversation, call their grandchildren and notify law enforcement.

Police said the scammers can be very convincing, especially to a grandmother. Under no circumstances should money be sent by any means unless the story has been confirmed by a family member.

“We’ve been told this is probably Nigerian-based scam,” said Redner. “They’re pretty smart.”

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August 26, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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