According to Undersheriff George Skuletich, officers met with an 89-year-old Butte woman last Friday who believed she had been scammed. Skuletich said the woman told officers she received a call from a person who said her grandson was in jail in Jersey City, New Jersey, and needed $15,000 in cash right away. She even talked to a person she believed to be her grandson, the woman told police.
The woman sent the money through Fed Ex to a Jersey City address, Skuletich said. A few days later, the same person called her again, stating he had mixed up the correct bail price and that the woman’s grandson needed another $15,000 to get out of a Jersey City jail. Skuletich said the woman again Fed Ex-ed the money to a different Jersey City address.
When the man called the woman a third time on March 8, she refused to send any more money and called her son. He helped the woman determine she’d been scammed, and she called Butte police, Skuletich said.
Butte police are attempting to trace the Jersey City addresses the woman sent money to, Skuletich said, and are in contact with New Jersey law enforcement, Fed Ex and the Federal Communications Commission.
“We’re doing our due diligence, but we’ve never gotten money back before,” Skuletich said, referring to previous scam investigations.
This grandchild scam victim is the only one reported in the Butte area as of Monday, but Skuletich said this is a classic, ongoing scam used across the country.
“Grandparents don’t want to see their grandkids in jail or in trouble,” Skuletich said. He also explained that oftentimes scammers will use Facebook or other websites to determine if someone may be a grandparent, then target them.
Skuletich also warned that scams similar to this one are “pretty rampant” this time of year, often involving the Internal Revenue Service or the lottery, and urged locals to call the police department at 406-497-1120 if they are suspicious of a scam.
“If anyone asks you to send money to get money, or requests money over the phone, call us,” Skuletich said.