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Shasta County D.A. Recovers Large Sum After Couple Fell Victim To Scam

The Shasta County D.A.’s Office says holding Western Union responsible for fraud schemes has paid off for some local victims. It involved the old “Help me Grandma I’m in jail” scam. The caller pretends to be a grandchild or niece or nephew or other relative. They count on the call recipient being out of touch with their relatives enough not to recognize the voice as a stranger. They say they’re locked up, sometimes in a foreign country, and desperately need bail money to be sent. The scammers are very convincing, often including personal information about members of the household that can be gleaned from Facebook profiles. The victim is told to transfer money via Western Union or some other untraceable service. A few years ago the Federal Trade Commission settled with Western Union for $586 Million, alleging that they had aided and abetted the scams. A local elderly couple fell victim to the scam in 2011, wiring a substantial amount of money before realizing they were being ripped off. The couple is dead now, but their daughter was assisted by the D.A.’s Office in recovering $27,000 for the estate, with another $14,000 likely on the way. Recipients of such calls should quiz the caller with questions only the relative could answer, or just hang up.