MARYLAND

Scam tricks grandparents out of thousands

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Police in Montgomery County are warning residents about a new scam targeting the elderly.

The most recent case happened just before Thanksgiving. Police say the suspects are so sophisticated they name drop and use information they could be getting from your social media accounts.

Investigators say the thieves duped two senior citizens in Friendship Heights out of $2,000 each.

The Consumer Federation of America posted a warning video that shows how the scammers work. They typically call an elderly grandparent in the middle of the night, often claiming to be a grandchild who needs emergency cash.

"It's completely odd that anyone would believe it...," said grandparent Elizabeth Bassett. "...especially if you know your grandkids."

But the scammers offer an explanation.

Now police are warning grandparents not to fall for the scam and to first check with another family member.

Joe Carpenter has grandchildren of his own and says, "A lot of people panic...out of the love they have for their grandkids. I have a lot of love for mine too... but I would have to have proof."

But for those who fall for the trap, it's nearly impossible to trace the money once it's given up, investigators say.

"You can't really track phone numbers now unless it's a landline...that's actually registered to someone," explained Montgomery County Police Officer Janelle Smith.

Police believe this may be happening more often, but many cases go unreported. Victims may be ashamed, but police are asking those affected to call anyway. Any information could help shut the scam down.

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