Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. Neighbors Bob and Sharon Pierson got a call Thursday morning from a granddaughter who was in tears. She was being arrested, and her lawyer said she needed $5,000 to post bail and cover his fees. If the story sounds familiar, it should. It was a scam.
“It was extremely well planned, extremely well done,” Bob Pierson said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon.
It’s called the Grandparents Scam, and it has been tried repeatedly in Rancho Murieta. One neighbor says she gets these calls all the time.
Here’s what happened to the Piersons:
The caller identified herself as one of their four granddaughters (the Piersons think they might have helped the scammers by unwittingly tipping them to one of the granddaughters’ names) and the young woman said her voice was low and scratchy – not to mention unrecognizable – due to laryngitis.
The caller said she had been pulled over by police, who claimed they found drugs in her car. “My attorney’s here, and he wants to talk to you,” the woman said.
A man got on the phone. “She’s going to be OK,” the supposed lawyer said, “but what I need to do is, I need to represent her and make sure we go through this thing properly, or she’s going to be tied up here for days, and it’s going to cost you all kinds of money.”
Sharon Pierson, understandably upset, told the lawyer she would take care of it. She hung up and tried to reach the granddaughter in question. Told what was going on, the granddaughter's reaction was: “What?”
The Piersons contacted the Sheriff's Department to report the scam attempt and are awaiting a call back.
This particular scam has been tried across the nation, typically aimed at grandparents and based on supposed grandchildren in distress. Sadly, people have been duped and wired thousands of dollars to scammers.
If you get a call like this, do as the Piersons did: Hang up and call another family member to determine the whereabouts of the grandchild in question. Share the story with other family members to ask their advice. Stay calm. Don’t do anything hastily, however much you're pressured to. And never share any of your bank or personal information.
Here’s coverage of some of the other scams that have been tried in Rancho Murieta: