(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced that a cooperative investigation by the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Broward County Sheriff's Office in Broward County, Florida, has resulted in Noel A. Colqhoun of Lauderhill, Florida, being charged with Grand Theft, a felony of the third degree, as a result of his alleged involvement in a "grandparent scam" that victimized an elderly Cuyahoga County woman.
"The criminals behind these scams take advantage of grandparents who believe they're helping their grandchildren," said Attorney General Mike DeWine. "We're sending a message to scammers that if you target older Ohioans, we will do everything we can to track you down and bring you to justice, wherever you are."
In this case, on July 14, 2011, a grandmother from Lyndhurst, Ohio, received a phone call from a person claiming to be her grandson. The caller told her that he'd been in a car accident and urgently needed money. She wired $5,000 to Lauderhill, Florida. The next day the scammer called again and said he needed another $5,000. By the time she realized that her grandson was okay, she'd lost $10,000 to the scam.
The Attorney General's Economic Crimes Division and the Lyndhurst Police Department worked with the Broward County, Florida Sheriff's Office to get information on the suspect, leading to the suspect's arrest and subsequent criminal charge.
"Victims of the grandparents scam are just trying to help a loved one, and then end up losing their hard-earned money," added DeWine. "The grandparent scam has become practically an epidemic in Ohio. We've received more than 100 complaints this year about older Ohioans who have been targeted by someone pretending to be their grandchild or loved one."
DeWine offered the following suggestions for protection against this scam:
- Be suspicious if the "grandchild" asks you to keep the situation between you and the caller – "Please don't tell mom or dad."
- Ask the caller questions only a family member would know how to answer.
- Tell your family not to post upcoming travel plans online.
- Never wire transfer money to someone who calls unexpectedly, even if the caller claims to be a relative.
- Attorney General DeWine stressed that these scam artists are very good and victims should not be embarrassed to report them.
To report a scam, please call 1-800-282-0515 or visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Eve Mueller: 614-466-3840