According to reports, the caller, pretending to be a Canadian law official, said the woman's grandchild was in a Canadian prison and money was needed to get him out. The caller spun a wild story about how the woman's grandson had been on a road trip with two other boys, and drugs were found in their vehicle, leading to their arrest.
The caller persuaded the woman not to contact the boy's parents by telling her it "could get much more rough for him."
Over the course of four days, the local couple wired several thousands of dollars to an address in Spain to cover various court costs, fines and to avoid their grandson being hurt any further. By the time the couple found out that their grandson was never in Canada, or even on a road trip, it was too late.
Police later said that this scam has been reported in several other states, but this is the first one reported in Oklahoma. Details used in what is being called "Granny Scams" have varied from the grandchild being involved in accident, to being arrested for a variety of other reasons such as drinking and driving.
Since this incident, two other local people have reported that they received similar calls, one from an Altus woman who was told that her granddaughter was stranded in Spain and needed money to get home, and an elderly woman in Mangum who was told her nephew was in prison in Canada and needed money to get out.
The manner in which the scammers get information for use in getting money out of grandparents can be found from a variety of sources over the internet from social networking sites such as myspace and facebook, to school websites, online surveys, court records and legal publications, to job applications and search engine sites such as Yahoo and Google.
Altus Police say the FBI has been contacted about this scam, and urges everyone to be guarded about what information they share with others on these types of websites.
If you are the victim of such a crime, or have received similar calls, contact the police immediately.