Sheriff’s Department Warns About Scams Targeting Elderly

Minden, NV…The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about a telephone scam against the elderly that has begun surfacing in the area again.

The scam is perpetrated when a suspect telephones an elderly victim claiming to be a bail bondsman or attorney representing their grandchild. The suspect tells the elderly victim that their grandchild has been arrested for a misdemeanor traffic crime or was the at-fault driver in an automobile accident where they did not have insurance. The suspect tells the grandparent that their grandson or granddaughter has been arrested, and the grandparent needs to send money to bail out their grandchild. The scammers typically request the money be sent via Western Union or MoneyGram.

Oftentimes, to try and fool the victim into paying the money, the caller will put someone else on the line who impersonates a law enforcement officer or jailer. In some cases, the caller claims to be the grandchild themselves asking for the bail money. In instances where a grandparent is unfamiliar with a grandchild’s voice, they can be fooled.

Many of these scam phone calls are done through internet telephone services, disposable prepaid cell phones, or are originating in other states, making tracking and the prosecution near impossible.

Sheriff Ron Pierini and members of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office want the public to be aware of this scam in hopes you will not become a victim of it. There are several steps you can take to mitigate risk if you should receive such a phone call:

If the caller sounds legitimate, try to confirm the information by having the supposed family member provide information only that person would know, such as: birth date, mother’s name, mother’s or father’s phone number, name of the street where they grew up, name of first pet, or some other information specific to them. DO NOT PROVIDE ANY OF THE INFORMATION TO THE CALLER. TELL THEM TO PUT THE FAMILY MEMBER ON THE LINE SO YOU CAN SPEAK TO THEM.

If the caller claims to be in jail or at a police station, ask which agency and location, and a phone number and an officer to get in touch with. Then before calling back, confirm the validity of the phone number using the Internet or directory assistance.

Call the relative you are receiving info about to confirm their whereabouts. If you can’t get in touch with them directly, call their parents or another close family member.