Scams rattle senior citizens


Mary Keahny received a phone call Thursday morning that nearly frightened her out of $4,000.

The 83-year-old resident received a phone call from a man claiming to be her grandson and needing bail money for committing an alleged crime.

“The whole thing was a scam,” she said, calling the ordeal “traumatic.”

Keahny called her brother, a retired lawyer, and gave him the phone number, case number and name of the attorney allegedly connected with her grandson’s case. The case number and name of the attorney turned out to be false, and the phone number was traced to Bend, Ore.

“I almost had a heart attack,” she said, upon realizing she nearly had been scammed. “What kind of person does this?”

The scam is one of many that have targeted seniors in recent months. In October, a grandmother was lured into giving $2,100 to a man claiming to be her grandson in New York City and needing bail money. The caller later demanded an additional $9,000 before the grandmother called her daughter-in-law and deputies at Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

Deputies issued a bulletin this fall warning seniors against phone scammers.

“The scammer will seem friendly, maybe use your first name, and then claim to have information about a family member,” the bulletin said. “These scams generally target the elderly population. The scammer may even provide the name and birthdate of a grandchild; using this information to feign credibility.”

Deputies said reports from victims showed they had been scammed out of about $2,000.

In November, at least half a dozen seniors got phone calls from people posing as Internal Revenue Service agents demanding immediate payment for alleged tax violations.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a news release regarding the IRS scam. Sheriff’s officials said criminals were posing as government agencies in order to extort money from residents and said no government agency will ever call and solicit money for fines.

Also earlier this month, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office warned seniors about a “money mule” scam by offering work-from-home jobs as money-transfer agents.

Signal Staff Writer Jim Holt contributed to this story.

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