Consumer Watch: 'Grandparents Scam' hits local family


by Kyle Brown

Posted on February 3, 2010 at 7:12 PM

(WHAS11)-A couple in the Highlands is out thousands of dollars after falling victim to the “Grandparents Scam.”

With a single phone call in late January the bait was set for physician Fred Pipkin.

“Their person calling identified himself as a police officer in Hudson, Canada,” said Pipkin.

The man claimed Pipkin’s granddaughter, Jennifer, was in a Canadian jail.

“With a granddaughter, you go all to pieces and I was a basket case,” he said.

The caller even asked Fred if he wanted to speak to Jennifer.
At that point a young woman got on the phone.

She said that she had a cold to explain her voice being different. Then she made Fred promise not to tell anyone.

She said she was arrested on drug charges. She claimed she was tested and was clean but the other girls that were with her tested positive so they all went to jail.

The fake cop directed Pipkin to a nearby Kroger where he was to wire both bail money and attorney fees to an overseas account.

Pipkin cooperated, thinking he was protecting Jennifer.

“She said, ‘I’m so upset and embarrassed. I don’t want anyone else to know about this,” Pipkin told us.

The next day, another phone call claiming Jennifer got into a fight overnight in jail and more bail money and attorney fees were required. The caller again directed Fred to the same Kroger.

Pipkin said, “The total amount was about $4,300 and, at the time, I thought boy this is a small price to pay to get my granddaughter out of jail and to get the charges dropped.”

He soon thought differently when he called back to find the phone number unavailable.

Concerned for his out-of-town granddaughter’s safety, he called her mother.

Pipkin asked, “WHERE’S JENNIFER... and she said she’s right here, she just walked in the door.”

Pipkin says he felt “anger and a feeling of complete stupidity” to be taken advantage of that way.

On GOOGLE, Fred’s granddaughter learned that it is a well orchestrated scam with many victims.

Fred doesn’t know why or how he was targeted.

Pipkin has reported his loss to LMPD, the F.B.I. and the Better Business Bureau.

Unfortunately, other than filing a report, they say they can’t do anything about it.