By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

A grandparent in Vergas, north central Otter Tail County, lost several thousands of dollars after becoming a victim of what is known as “the grandchild in distress scam.” The scam was reported by sheriff deputies on Oct. 18.

Minnesota grandparents often report a scam where a con artist talks to grandparents about a grandchild in distress. The con artist exploits the love and generosity of the grand-parent by conveying that the grandchild is in trouble and in need of emergency funds. 

The fraudster then convinces the grandparent that they are assisting a grandchild by paying for transportation home from a foreign country, medical treatment, bail or something else.

Some grandparents, thinking they are coming to the aid of a grandchild in need, set aside their reservations and quickly wire money to the impostor. The con artist may ask the grandparents not to contact the parents out of embarrassment or because the need is too ur-gent, helping the con artist avoid detection.

Some con artists may investigate the identity of the grandchild before the initial phone call or pretend to be a third party, such as a government official or a bail bondsman. A request for secrecy is the hallmark of this scam.