An elderly Townsend couple was bilked out of $2,500 last week by a scammer pretending to be their grandson, according to New Castle County Police.
The scammer convinced the couple that he had been arrested for driving under the influence after wrecking his car. He then asked them to send a $2,500 money gram to a business in Laurel, Md., New Castle County Police spokesman Cpl. John Weglarz said.
During the call, a second person who identified himself as a public defender named David Wiseman "confirmed" that their "grandson" needed the money transferred to a person named Kyle Parker.
After sending the money gram, the couple received another phone call from the scammers, this time requesting $2,200 to pay for their "grandson's" traffic tickets.
The couple – who police have not identified – became suspicious and began asking the alleged grandson personal questions, at which point the caller hung up.
The phone number used by the scammers – (438) 763-9162 – is now temporarily unavailable, Weglarz said.
New Castle County Police said the case was first reported Friday, the same day another person reported an email scam in which a person claiming to be from Las Vegas asked a business woman to deposit a $2,000 money order and then dispute the funds to several people and places.
The woman became suspicious and contacted her financial advisor, who told her it was a scam and not to deposit the check.
Weglarz said no money exchanges took place during the correspondence.
These latest scams come less than a week after at least three Middletown business owners received calls from a person claiming to be a collection agent from Delmarva Power.
In all three instances, the caller claimed their power would be shut off unless the business owners made immediate credit card payments.
"The caller pressures the victims with the threat of the electric service being disconnected and even offers to accept a percentage of the balance," Middletown Police Chief Henry Tobin III said. "The fraudulent callers have even established fraudulent telephone numbers for the customer to call back, and in some cases, a fraudulent receptionist will answer your call."
He said electrical service in Middletown is provided by town government. Meanwhile, a Delmarva Power spokesman said the electric company does not make collection calls.
Weglarz said scams of this nature typically become more prevalent during the holiday season and warned county residents to educate themselves about the signs of a potential scam.
He offered these tips:
- Never give out banking information, credit card numbers or social security numbers over the phone.
- Demand a certified letter on official letterhead from anyone claiming to represent a government agency who is requesting money.
- Never feel pressured to make an on-the-spot decision. If someone says you have to take an offer immediately, it is likely a scam. Legitimate companies do no pressure people to act without taking the time to look into the deal.