Yakima residents are being targeted by what the Yakima County Sheriff's office is calling "the grandparent scam."

They say grandparents should be mindful if they receive a call or email from someone claiming to be their grandson and saying they have been arrested overseas and need money for bail. Deputies say scammers claiming to be grandchildren will ask not to tell mom and dad so they will not get upset.

Deputies say they regularly get calls from people saying they have been targeted.

Below are some common grandparent scam scenarios which have been provided by the FBI.

  • A grandparent receives a phone call (or sometimes an e-mail) from a “grandchild.” If it is a phone call, it is often late at night or early in the morning when most people are not thinking that clearly. Usually, the person claims to be traveling in a foreign country and has gotten into a bad situation, like being arrested for drugs, getting in a car accident or being mugged … and needs money wired ASAP. And the caller does not want his or her parents told.
  • Sometimes, instead of the “grandchild” making the phone call, the criminal pretends to be an arresting police officer, a lawyer, a doctor at a hospital, or some other person. And we have also received complaints about the phony grandchild talking first and then handing the phone over to an accomplice … to further spin the fake tale.
  • We have also seen military families victimized: after perusing a soldier’s social networking site, a con artist will contact the soldier’s grandparents, sometimes claiming that a problem came up during military leave that requires money to address.
  • While it is commonly called the grandparent scam, criminals may also claim to be a family friend, a niece or nephew, or another family member.

The Yakima County Sheriff’s Office would like to offer this advice to avoid being victimized.

  • Resist the pressure to act quickly.
  • Attempt to contact your grandchild or another family member to determine whether or not the call is legitimate.
  • Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail … especially overseas. Wiring money is like giving cash-once you send it, you cannot get it back.

There are numerous websites which provide information on this scam and how to avoid becoming a victim: www.consumerfed.org/fraud grandparents.about.com/.