PUNTE GORDA, Fla.- Charlotte County Sheriff's deputies investigated the latest in “Granny Scams” reported Tuesday by a Deep Creek woman. Dolores Grieco, 79, received a call from a woman claiming to be her granddaughter. Grieco asked if it was Janelle and the woman said yes, giving the scammer her name and convinced Grieco it was her granddaughter. The woman said she was in Lima, Peru, and was arrested for speeding and they found marijuana in her car. She told Grieco the American Embassy provided a lawyer for her.
The fake granddaughter then handed the phone over to her “lawyer” who said he located the closest Western Union at Murphy’s gas station on Kings Highway and to send $2,875 for bail and $200 for her fine. He also said not to make a big deal out of her sending money and told her to tell people she was sending money to help her granddaughter with medical problems. He said he’d call her back later to obtain a verification code that the money was sent.
Grieco withdrew the money from Bank of America and then went to Murphy’s; they told her they couldn’t send over $100 so she went to Winn Dixie nearby and sent the money. When she returned home, the lawyer called and she gave him the code to receive the money. He called her back a couple hours later and said a judge fined her granddaughter $2,975 and when that money was received she would be released and on the next plane home.
Grieco went back to her bank and was unable to withdraw the full amount when a teller became suspicious and questioned her. She admitted to the teller the real reason and the teller told her to call her family and find out if Janelle was really in Peru. She called her daughter and was told Janelle was at her job in Tampa. She then drove to the Mid-County Sheriff’s Office in Port Charlotte to report she was scammed. She told deputies she does not have caller ID and was unable to tell where the calls originated from. She also said she was embarrassed to report it because she through she was smarter than that. She then stated if only one person learns from her mistake, it would be worth it.
Sheriff Bill Cameron again warns residents about this type of scam which is, “Based on emotions that is appearing all over Florida, and especially targeting Charlotte County since the county has the highest average of any county in the nation. If anyone gets such a call, get a phone number to call them back. Immediately call their children or grandchildren and question if the may be in trouble somewhere.”