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Scam targets grandparents

DETROIT LAKES - On Tuesday afternoon, Bob Watson got a call. It was from his grandson, Robert, and he was in trouble.

He told his grandfather he was in jail in Toronto, Canada. He had been drinking and gotten into an accident with his rental car.

Robert was calling his grandfather to ask for money, and asked him to please not tell his parents because of the embarrassment of the situation. Watson complied.

Soon after the phone call, Watson and his wife went to the bank to get the money they needed to bail their grandson out of the Canadian "holding pen."

They went to MoneyGram at Wal-Mart to send their grandson the money and "it took her (the employee there) 30 seconds to say it was a scam," Watson said.

"In retrospect, I should have asked a bunch of questions like 'what's your dog's name,'" Watson said with a laugh.

Watson called his grandson, who lives in St. Paul, and lo and behold, he was home, not a Canadian jail.

It's a typical scam by people preying on others, the elderly, especially.

Detroit Lakes Police Sgt. Tim Eggebraaten and the rest of the force is no stranger to this scam.

"We can tell people 'til we're blue in the face, verify these things," he said.

He said the police department has had several of these scam complaints, but not for a while. Unfortunately, there isn't much they can do even if they get one. Since it "involves a different country," the police are unable to locate the people on the other end of the phone line to stop the activity.

Luckily, Watson was notified it was a scam before his money was wired to his "grandson."

A couple days later, the man called Watson back to ask about the money. Watson replied that the bank wasn't open and could he get his phone number to call him back. The man said the jail took his cell phone and passport. Watson asked for the jail's phone number. That's when the man hung up and Watson hasn't heard from him since.

Looking back now, Watson said when the man was telling him about the situation, "it almost sounded like he was reading it off" a script.

"I don't know what the answer is but to continue to educate people," Eggebraaten said.