A 77-year-old man took his own life after falling victim to what the FBI calls, 'the grandparent scam' on March 15.
According to Margie Limmer, the daughter of victim Ed Faust, her father received a call from the Dominican Republic. The scammers said they were the authorities and had Faust's grandson in custody. The scammers said if he didn't wire them money, his grandson would go to jail.
"They told him that he had 40-minutes to go to CVS and to get four $500 iTunes gift cards," Limmer said.
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She said her father did what the scammers said and transferred the gift cards over. Faust then called his grandson and realized he had been scammed.
"Daddy goes, 'I've just been scammed, I've been made a fool of,' and my nephew said that he was very upset and that after that he went in the backyard and killed himself," Limmer said.
Limmer said they knew exactly what the scammers said to her father because he wrote everything down on a notepad. They were able to contact police and hand over receipts, phone logs and the notes. She said she wanted to share her story to create awareness, so others don't fall for the same scam.
"Some of the police I talked to say normally it doesn't go this far," Limmer said. "But it did in my case, so I want people to know. I don't want people dying for useless reasons."
According to the FBI, the grandparent scam is a prevalent issue across the country. Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Phillip Partin said the elderly are targeted because they are more susceptible to believe this is something that could happen.
Special Agent Partin said these scammers troll the internet for victims.
"They look at real estate sites, they look at credit sites, they find different ways to assimilate identities through various characteristics that they get from these websites," Partin said.
He said the degree of difficulty in tracking these scammers varies, but scammers get away with it more than they are brought to justice.
"They are making contact from countries that we don't have an extradition treaty with," Partin said. "So if we don't have an extradition treaty, even if we identify them, there's no way we can bring them back to the United States for justice."
The FBI suggests steps you can take to avoid getting scammed such as contacting local authorities, checking in with other relatives before acting, not panicking, and not rushing into anything.
"Don't make any decisions rapidly," Partin said. "No government service, whether it's overseas or here, work very quickly and you're going to have time. Don't rush into a decision."
The FBI said If this has happened to you, you can also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3.
According to the FBI website, the IC3 not only forwards complaints to the appropriate agencies, but also collates and analyzes the data, looking for common threads that link complaints and help identify the culprits.
To file a complaint click here.