MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Mississippi County Sheriff Keith Moore would like to warn area residents of a phone scam targeting the Bootheel residents.
He said the so-called "grandparent scam" extracts money from elderly residents to cover phony medical or legal expenses for a family member traveling abroad.
One Mississippi County resident received a call from a person who claimed to be a Peruvian official calling on behalf of the man's grandson, whom he said needed money to bond out of jail and seek emergency medical attention.
The grandparent was asked to not tell anyone, because his grandson was embarrassed by the incident and didn't want his parents to know.
Panicked, the man quickly and discreetly wired several thousand dollars to the "grandson," only to later learn his grandson was not overseas, and he had been scammed.
"When a caller asks you to quickly and secretly send money overseas via Western Union or Moneygram, it's invariably a scam," Sheriff Moore said. "Once the funds are disbursed, there is no way to reverse the transaction, trace the money, or recover payment from the con artists."
Sheriff Moore recommends that anyone who receives this type of call should first do whatever is necessary to confirm their relative's whereabouts; and then, only send money after they have independently verified their loved one is really in trouble.
According to Sheriff Moore, while the informational brochures available from Western Union warn consumers about this scam, such "fine print" is often overlooked by the average customer.
The Mississippi County Sheriff's Department strongly encourages Western Union employees to warn customers of this scam before allowing them to send large sums of money to Peru, or any other overseas terminal.