The Golden Valley Police Department (GVPD) has seen an uptick in the "family member in jail" scam and warns residents to be on the lookout. The scam involves a phone call saying a family member has been arrested and urgently needs money for bail, with demands for thousands of dollars.
In recent weeks GVPD officers and Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputies have taken reports, all from seniors, with losses ranging from $8,000 to more than $20,000.
“These scams usually target the elderly, so spread the word to your loved ones so they do not become victims,” says Golden Valley Police Chief Virgil Green. “When they find out they’ve been scammed out of thousands of dollars and most of their savings are gone, these seniors are often afraid to say anything to family members and are reluctant to report it to police.
Scammers are calling home phones and cell phones alike, adds Green, and most cell phone calls show up as potential spam. “We are noticing most of the seniors have home phones and not cell phones, making it harder for law enforcement to trace the call.”
Green says police are encouraging banks that may have personal connections with seniors who are long-time customers to stop and ask more questions about unusual withdrawals of large amounts of cash. Bank managers may be able to call a family member to alert them about such withdrawals.
“I can’t stress how important this message is to our community and others to STOP sending money to people who claim that your grandson, granddaughter, or any loved one needs money to get out of jail,” says Green. .