TRAVERSE CITY — A concerned Leelanau County woman shelled out $7,500 she believed would bail her grandson out of a Colombian jail, but instead went straight into a scammer's pockets.
Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich said the woman fell victim to a "grandchild in distress" scam in which a harrowing phone call hooks elderly people. He said in this case the woman wired money on Monday after being told over the phone that her grandson had been in a crash, received a broken nose and been arrested for drunken driving.
"Further, she was told he was in jail in Columbia, out of the country," he said.
Dispatch records state the woman wired $7,500.
Borkovich said that cash apparently went to Bogota, Colombia and the amount tops the most money -- $4,000 -- previously sent by a Leelanau County resident in a scam. He said scammers typically tell victims to avoid telling banks or even other loved ones about why they need the cash.
"Once money is sent it's kind of a closed deal for us," he said.
Borkovich said phone scams often target elderly people. He said they should immediately be skeptical of phone calls purporting to be from loved ones in need of quick cash.
"It's just horrific," he said.