Scottsdale woman falls for 'Grandparent Scam,' wires $5K to help fake injured grandson

FOX 10's Andrew Hasbun reports.

- Grandparents will do anything to help their grandchildren.

Unfortunately, telephone scams are one of the top complaints coming into the Arizona Attorney General's office -- and one of those scams is taking advantage of a grandparent's love.

"It really has taken a toll on me," said 86-year-old Kitty Tomkinson, who has one grandson.

She believed the story when someone claiming to be him called, asking for help. He was in trouble, said he had been drinking and got into a car accident.

"They had me hooked right from the beginning. I was absolutely positive that I was helping my grandson," she said. "I talked to the lawyer and I talked to his assistant and they talked to the judge to up the bail bond.. so real and it was so professional."

They asked Tomkinson to wire thousands of dollars from Scottsdale to the Dominican Republic, claiming going through the Caribbean nation would save on taxes. They also told her to keep it a secret.

"My grandson said, 'Grandma, I am so embarrassed about what has happened.. I don't really want you to talk to the rest of the family,' and I said my lips are sealed."

She was able to wire the money at a Walmart store near the Paradise Valley mall and over a period of a few days, sent $5,250.  She figured out the scam when she called to check on him a few days later and he was fine.

"People that would hear about it.. they would say oh, it would never happen to me and it makes you feel so foolish, but believe it or not, it can happen to anyone," she said.

The Arizona Attorney General's office has forwarded her complaint to the Federal Trade Commission for investigation.

The AG's office says it's not just phone scams, people need to be on the lookout for and to mark Consumer Protection Week. The office released a list of the top five consumer fraud complaints of 2015. At the top of the list were complaints involving used car sales and rentals. Telephone scams are second, followed by telemarketing and business opportunity frauds, mortgages and loan modifications and motor vehicle repairs.

 


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