SAVANNAH, GA. (May 1, 2014): Financial Crimes detectives are advising the public of a scam designed to bilk grandparents of their savings under the mistaken belief they are helping their grandchildren.

Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police have received reports of callers pretending to be grandchildren of victims, claiming they were involved in an accident, arrested for DUI or other situations invoking a sense of urgency. They have a reason for sounding different (nose broken in crash) and beg the grandparent for confidentiality.

The victims are asked to send money to a specific “attorney” via money cards such as Green Dot or wire transactions. Afterward, they discover the caller was impersonating the grandchild, who they learn had no such issues.

The scam is frustrating to both the victims and investigators because many originate in other countries and are all but impossible to trace.

“Many victims do not report these incidents for fear of embarrassment,” said Chief Julie Tolbert. “Others have unrealistic hopes that we will be able to find these perpetrators and perhaps return the funds. The worst part of this scam is that it takes advantage of people who often are on fixed incomes and reach into irreplaceable savings under the false impression they are helping a loved one.”

Financial Crimes Sgt. Jeramy Henry offered these tips to help avoid falling victim to such thefts:
• Ask the “grandchild” or requesting family member a question only they would know.
• Contact the requesting family member via methods available before the call for help. (Do not call the family member back using a number they just provided.)
• Contact the family of the “grandchild” prior to sending any money to check on the grandchild’s welfare regardless of what the “grandchild” requests.
• Avoid providing funds through wire transfers or money cards. (No reputable business would require such payment.)
• The victim should request the actual police or sheriff’s department where the grandchild is to verify the information provided by the callers.
• React thoughtfully, never in haste.

Sgt. Henry also said victims should file reports with authorities for any criminal act.

Questions can be directed to the SCMPD Financial Crimes Unit at (912) 651-6735 or via FAX at (912) 644-5948.

Reports on this crime can be found at: