Scam alert: 76-year-old asked to clean out her account to bail out grandson

AMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) -- The Charleston County Sheriff's Office has put out a fraud warning after a James Island grandmother was almost bilked out of her savings.According to the CCSO report, the woman got a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandson saying he had been arrested for a DUI in Atlanta. The victim said he told her he had gone to a friend's funeral, went out for some beers and then got into an accident.She told police that the caller didn't sound like her grandson, who she said was in the middle of exams at the Citadel, but the caller claimed he had broken his nose when the airbags in his cardeployed.The caller then told her that someone from "legal aid" would be calling her with more information. Fifteen minutes later, someone calling themselves 'David Bell' did indeed call, telling her she had to wire $3725 to someone named Francisco Paulino in La Vega, Dominican Republic. The caller said the money would be used to get her grandson out of jail.She called a number that Bell had given her to check his credentials. Deputies say a third suspect, a woman, confirmed they had an attorney named David Bell working at their law offices. She then gave the victim the number for the county courthouse, which the victim called. Thatnumber turned out to be for the county jail and they had no record of her grandson being there.Finally, the victim says she called the Citadel and, just as she suspected, her grandson was safe at school. She immediately notified the sheriff's office who asked her to check her bank account.Deputies said her account held exactly $3725."This incident is a variation of several scams which have been tried by scammers to solicit money from individuals throughout the U.S. most involving a call from a "relative" reporting some type of arrest and money is requested to be sent to get the person out of jail," said Major James Brady with the CCSO. "In this incident the potential victim did all the right things including: noticing inconsistencies in the information coming from the person claiming to be her grandson and asking important questions about the incident in question, knowing the Grandson had not been traveling, trusting her instinct's that something wasn't quite right and contacting law enforcement to report the incident." Brady warns anyone who receives a call like this to look into the incident before sending any money. Many detention centers and courts have websites where information on arrested persons can be confirmed.Public websites here in the Lowcountry include:

The Berkeley County 9th Judicial Circuit Public Index The Charleston County Ninth Circuit Public Index The Dorchester County First Judicial Circuit Public Index The Georgetown County Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Public Index Georgetown County SC Sheriff's Office Detention Bookings and ReleasesThe Berkeley County Detention CenterThe SC Dept. of Corrections Incarcerated Inmates SearchThe Charleston County Sheriff's Office Inmate Search