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Posted on December 12, 2012 | 6:04 p.m.

Sheriff’s Department Warns of Rise in ‘Grandparent Scams’

Source: Lt. Butch Arnoldi for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department wants to make everyone aware of the latest “emergency scam” or sometimes referred to as the “grandparent scam” that has been around for years but has recently been occurring in the Santa Barbara area.

We want to warn and caution the public to be on alert after noting a marked increase in the number of complaints the Sheriff’s Department has received in the past two weeks.

In the typical scenario, a grandparent receives a phone call from a con artist claiming to be one of his or her grandchildren. The caller goes on to say that they are in some kind of trouble and need money immediately. Typically they claim being in a car accident, trouble returning from a foreign country or they need bail money.

Wanting to help their grandchild, the victim sends money by a money transfer company such as Money Gram or Western Union.

The purpose of this news release is to educate the public about specific fraudulent marketing and identity theft. If you feel that you have been a victim of this scam, you are encouraged to contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center and file a complaint on its IC3 form, which not only forwards complaints to the appropriate agencies, but it collates and analyzes the data.

Our advice to avoid being victimized in the first place is to 1) resist the pressure to act quickly; 2) try to contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate; and 3) never wire money based on a request made over the telephone or in an email, especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash; once you send it, you cannot get it back.

The Internet Complaint Center website is The procedures and directions for filing a complaint can be made through this website.

— Lt. Butch Arnoldi is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

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