A phone scam that occasionally occurs around town is the “grandson” scam. Here’s how it works.
An elderly resident will receive a phone call from someone who purports to be their “grandson.” The suspect says that he has been arrested for DUI in an out-of-state city, and needs bail money. The suspect instructs the victim to go to a convenience store and purchase “Green Dot MoneyPaks” (what amounts to a reloadable debit card - see www.moneypak.com for more details) and provide them with the unique identifying number on the back of the card. Once the suspect obtains those identifying numbers, they gain ready access to that money and defraud the victim.
Between April 2014 and October 2014, we've only had two such cases reported to us where the elderly victims lost money (one $3500, the other $2000), but we've also heard from residents that more calls have been received around town. If you've been the victim of this scam and have lost money, please call us at 650-329-2413 to file a report. If you can, please note the originating phone number, as that may provide a clue for detectives to follow.
This is, unfortunately, a very common scam nationwide (which a quick internet search will confirm). For those of you with elderly friends or relatives, no matter if they live in Palo Alto or elsewhere, please tell them about this scam so they don’t fall victim to it.