Couple loses thousands in "Grandparent Scam" - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Couple loses thousands in "Grandparent Scam"

WITTENBERG (WAOW) - Authorities say phone scammers are targeting senior citizens for profit. A Shawano County couple lost thousands in a recent scam.

A phone call on Friday had Gordon and Agnes Schlender thinking the worst.

"Said he was in trouble," said Agnes Schlender.

They say the caller told them their grandson was in jail. To help him, the caller said they needed to wire transfer $2,000 in cash to Florida.

"It didn't worry me because we thought we were helping our grandson out," said Schlender.

But it was all a lie.

"In the afternoon I called my grandson and he said 'Grandma, I wasn't in jail,'" said Schlender. "That's when he said, you were scammed."

Authorities call it the "Grandparent Scam."

Since 2010, The Federal Trade Commission has record of more than 40,000 reports of scammers impersonating loved ones.

Marathon County Sheriff's officers says scams like this are common throughout the state.

"The young people or the elderly people seem to be the people really falling victim to these scams," said Lt. Bill Millhausen.

Officers say people need to think twice before sending money.

"Before you do anything, contact other family members to find out if that's really someone who is in need of some money," said Millhausen.

Once the money is sent, officials say it's likely gone for good.

"We've investigated hundreds and hundreds of these," said Millhausen. "I don't know of anyone who's gotten their money back."

Now, the Schlenders say they wish they noticed the signs earlier.

"You just take it as a loss like losing a ball game and hope you do better next time," said Gordon Schlender.

But they say they hope others can learn from their experience.

"They'll be more aware when things don't sound just right," said Schlender.

The Schlenders say they plan on getting caller ID, so they can ignore unknown callers in the future.

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