Sullivan County

Phone scam targets grandparents

KINGSPORT, Tenn. - An old scam is making a comeback, and it has already claimed an elderly victim in East Tennessee.

It's called the "Grandparent Scam" in law enforcement circles, and is on the National Council on Aging's Top 10 scam list.

In this scam a person calls, claiming to be a grandchild in trouble who needs money to either get out of jail, pay medical bills, or even fix a broken car.

On October 1, an 81-year-old Kingsport woman got multiple phone calls from men claiming to be her grandson, and her grandson's lawyer. The 'lawyer' explained they needed $6,000 following a drug arrest. The victim sent a certified check to an address in Springfield, Mass.

The victim's daughter, Brenda, told News 5 her mom is devastated. "She is very upset and she cannot believe she let this happen to her," said Brenda. "She followed their instructions to a 'T', because she thought her grandson was in trouble."

The Sullivan County Sheriff's Office says the best way to handle a call like this is to try and verify the caller's identity. "Ask them questions. Even if it sounds like your loved one. Ask them personal questions that only your loved one would be able to answer," said spokeswoman Leslie Earhart.

We've learned the FBI has been aware of this scam since 2008.

If you think you are the victim of a scam, or if you get one of these calls, click here for more information.

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