Sheriff’s department says scammers are getting bolder

They show up at the victim’s home for ‘grandparent’ scam
A Miami man is charged for his role in scamming a Marathon Co. grandmother out of nearly $50K
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 5:15 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Three victims in our viewing area fell victim to a grandparent scam in the past few days. Investigators said in each case the scammer uses relatives as bait and they say the scammer calls and pretends to be a grandchild in distress.

The Marathon County Sheriff’s Office said scammers are getting bolder.

“They actually have a person show up in person to collect cash from the victims. Which is concerning to us because it’s scary,” said Captain Jeff Stefonek, Investigations, Marathon County Sheriff’s Office.

Captain Stefonek said this is the first time they’ve seen these in-person scams in our area.

On Tuesday, a man from Miami named Alejandro Garcia was charged after prosecutors went to people’s homes to ask for more money. Prosecutors said he scammed one grandparent out of nearly $50,000.

“We’ve had a couple now where the suspect returns multiple times for money and in between there the victims will contact law enforcement we’re able to get the ball rolling on our end and intercept,” said Captain Stefonek.

The criminal complaint showed the daughter and son-in-law of the victim and police were able to confront the suspect this way. Authorities think many of these scammers aren’t working alone.

“The brains behind the operation so to speak are not themselves at risk. They’re employing other people to come to pick up the cash front the victims so that if the middle man gets caught they can continue committing crimes,” said Captain Stefonek.

DATCP said regardless of how the suspect gets the money there are three things scammers try to do to their victims.

“Isolating your grandma or grandpa, making them scared, and then getting money from them. Those are the three ingredients for a really successful scam,” said Lara Sutherlin, Administrator, DATCP.

Captain Stefonek said it’s best to come up with a password with your family members to confirm it’s actually them. Sutherlin said it’s important to make sure you talk with your loved ones about the scams.

“Talk to the older people in your life that you think may have their heartstrings pulled by a grandparent call and really want to help and thinking they’re helping and may end up being scammed,” said Sutherlin.

Sutherlin said you shouldn’t be embarrassed to report being a scam victim. You’ll help others avoid being scammed if you report it. You can call your local police department or DATCP’s hotline at 1-800-422-7128. There is also a senior guide book that has lots of information on ‘grandparent’ scams that you can order from DATCP’s website.

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