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Forum News Service, Published November 19 2013

Devils Lake woman victim in 'grandparent scam'

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. - A 79-year-old Devils Lake woman lost $10,000 after being victimized in a “grandparent scam.”

According to Devils Lake Police Department, the woman was contacted by telephone Friday by someone who said her grandchild was in jail in Peru and would not be released unless she sent $10,000.

The woman then went to her local bank and had the $10,000 sent via wire transfer to someone in a city near Lima, Peru, according to Devils Lake Police Detective Sue Schwab.

“The money was sent and that’s the end of it,” she said. “Because once you send it to a foreign country, you’re not going to get it back.”

The only chance of recouping the money, the FBI advised, is if the two countries have some sort of reciprocity agreement that covers such crimes, she said.

So-called “grandparent scams” usually make the rounds during holidays, when college students likely are traveling, according to police.

“Normally, people are not victimized by that,” Schwab said. “They’ll call and tell us about it, but they didn’t forward any money.”

A more common scam in recent years is the fake sweepstakes contest, in which a caller tells the potential victim that he or she has won a large sweepstakes or lottery. However, in order to collect the winnings, the person has to send money, often $10,000 to $50,000.

“The best thing to do is education,” Schwab said, “to try to tell people not to do it.”