Consumer Watch: Don't get taken by the 'Grandparent Scam'


by Andy Treinen

Posted on May 17, 2013 at 4:33 PM

(WHAS11) -- It's known as the "Grandparent Scam" and the harder we work to expose the bad guys the more creative they become in trying to rip off our senior citizens.

For one woman, Carol Alexander, it all started with a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandson, Naval officer Jake Cutzinger.

"I hadn't seen my grandson in about five months and we are very close," Alexander said of her grandson that is stationed in Texas.

The person on the phone sounded just like Jake and he said he'd been in an automobile accident, and he was at fault.

"I said ‘Jake are you OK? How bad are you hurt?’ And he said ‘I have a broken nose and stitches in my neck’," Alexander said.

Alexander lives alone with her dog Sparky and people like her are the prime target of what's called the “Grandparent Scam.”

She's a doting mother, grandmother and great grandmother to baby Ava. When she was told her grandson had been detained by police and needed $900 to get out of jail she was hooked.

"I live for my family, and by this time I’m just about in tears," she said.

The person claiming to be Jake said he had to be back on base in a couple of hours to avoid more trouble so he needed the $900 fast. Alexander then hustled to her PNC Bank branch.  She said she was then told to go to Wal-Mart to they a Money Gram and send it to an attorney with a Trinidad address.

"I was getting ready to walk out the front door when my phone rung and when I answered the phone it was Jake's dad, he said Jake don't need no money. There was no accident," Alexander said.

Jake's dad, Scott Cutzinger, called just in the nick of time. Then the person called back and Alexander said she gave him a piece of her mind.

"I sat down and I cried, and Jake's daddy, he said ‘mom why did you cry?’ I said ‘because I would never talk to Jake like that," she said.

The Better Business Bureau estimates 60,000 seniors are victimized by the Grandparent Scam each year.

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