Elderly Iowans are being warned about a telephone scam where someone claiming to be their grandchild calls and begs for money due to an incident. The stories may include a car accident, a medical emergency or legal trouble. Bart Webb, of Atlantic, says he got a call recently from someone who claimed to be his grandson.
The caller said he’d been arrested on a drug charge on the U-S/Canadian border. Webb says the alleged trial was supposed to have been held later that same day. The caller said Webb needed to wire $4,000 right away for bail and to hire an attorney.
Webb says his wife had answered the phone and talked to the person initially, but couldn’t tell if it was really her grandson. “He was crying and sobbing and everything: ‘Grandma, Grandpa, they’re going to put me in jail. Do something for me.'”
Beverly Webb was upset by the call and told the “grandson” they would get a hold of his father. The caller told her to keep the information confidential as he only trusted her. At that point, Bart Webb got on the phone and asked a question, since his grandson has a master’s degree in mathematics.
Webb says he asked the caller: “What is X squared plus 2-X-Y plus Y squared?” and the caller started mumbling and couldn’t answer, then tried to turn the questions around. Webb then asked another equation question typically found in calculus, which the caller also couldn’t answer.
Webb says the caller started screaming, “Grandpa, what are you doing this to me for?” and eventually just hung up.
Officials say anyone who gets this type of call should not provide any personal or bank account information. Since this type of fraud typically crosses international borders, prosecution is unlikely, as is the recovery of funds.
Webb says they tried to trace the call and the number seemed to originate in Tennessee, but when they called, there was no such number. He suspects an overseas scammer went through a U-S operator to carry out the attempted fraud.
Contributed by Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic