A man claiming to be a Monett resident's grandson imprisoned in Quito, Ecuador, has scammed the woman of $4,100.
The incident occurred Tuesday, April 24, when a man called the woman stating he was in prison for wrecking a rental car. He said he needed $4,100 wired via Western Union immediately or "something bad would happen." He then transferred the call to another man, Richard Gomez, who acted as an official who claimed to be helping the imprisoned man.
According to Monett Police Chief Tim Schweder, the woman wired the money as requested. It was when she received a subsequent call requesting an additional $3,500 for reported "damage to the vehicle" that the woman notified authorities.
"The suspects said if anyone asked her what the money was for, to tell them she was helping a friend," Schweder said. "Then they had her make the wire transfer out to Richard Gomez.
"The victim claimed the man did sound like her grandson," Schweder said.
The woman took detailed notes and was able to provide that information to investigating officers.
"This scam is one that is known to law enforcement officials on a national level," Schweder said. "It is one that, unfortunately, targets the elderly."
Schweder cautions area residents about sending money through a wire service, especially if it is sent to an overseas recipient.
"Unfortunately, this type of case is beyond our jurisdiction." Schweder said. "We took the information and will report it to the proper federal authorities.
"It is far too easy for criminals to obtain information on people and use it to scam them out of money," Schweder continued. "Residents need to be aware that this type of activity is taking place in our community."