By Michael R. Moser
An elderly Crossville man is out nearly $5,000 after receiving a series of phone calls informing him his grandson had been arrested and needed money sent out of the country to secure his release.
It is a scam repeated over and over across the country. There have been previous reports to authorities in Cumberland County concerning similar scams, but the incident reported this week might represent the biggest loss of money to date.
Crossville Police were contacted by a 75-year-old Quail Hollow Dr. resident Monday that he received a call on Friday from a man claiming to be his grandson, who lives in Ontario, NY. The victim believed he was talking to his grandson, so he listened and complied with instructions he was given, according to Ptl. Jacob Brink's report.
The caller said he had been arrested in Mexico City for possession of marijuana and needed $1,515 sent to pay for court costs. The victim traveled to a local business and sent the money by Western Union.
The next day he received a call from the same person claiming to be his grandson, and believing his grandson was in trouble, sent a second Western Union money order in the amount of $1,640. The caller said that money was needed to make a charitable contribution to a Mexico City hospital as part of his court-ordered instructions.
The victim then received a third call from a man claiming to be a U.S. Marine on guard duty at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, instructing him to send an additional money order to ensure his grandson would not be a flight risk.
In all, the victim sent three money orders totaling $4,570.
He later made contact with his grandson who informed him he had never been to Mexico City, and that he had not called his grandfather asking for money.
While Crossville Police forward such complaints to federal authorities, there is little Crossville Police can do, other than urge persons receiving similar calls to contact their family member, or police, before sending money to an unknown source.