'Tis the season for the Granny Scam. It's a chestnut that has had a resurgence this year. The fraud works like this.
The phone rings and the person on the other end purports to be your favorite grandchild, and says he has been arrested for something like driving while drinking beer, smoking, fishing with no license or possession of a single marijuana cigarette, and is in jail. He needs money for bail and doesn't want to call his parents because they will be angry. Sometimes, someone purporting to be Sgt. Smith gets on the phone and confirms the dilemma.
Granny complies, following the instructions to send the $2,000 or so via Western Union. If that works, the "grandson" may come back for more, asking for money to pay the hospital emergency room where he has gone to have treatment for the injuries he incurred while in jail.
By that time, surely even the most gullible granny has figured out she's been had.
Reports of this kind of fraud have been made in 14 states and several Canadian provinces.
If you get a call similar to one of these, Western Union urges grandparents to check it out -- even if the grandchild begs for confidentiality and says you're the one adult he loves and trusts. That appeal is part of the scam. Chances are, a call to mom and dad or somebody else in the know will save you thousands of dollars and prove that the kid is all right -- and not sitting in the slammer after all.