6 charged in 'grandparent scam,' more than $250K stolen from victims: Investigators

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is warning grandparents after scammers swindled more than $250,000 from Florida seniors. It was all part of a scam after fraudsters posed as attorneys of grandchildren claiming they were in trouble and needed money. At least six people are now facing charges.

The scam starts with a phone call.

"The perpetrators just disguise themselves as lawyers or legal representatives of a person's grandchild," Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said.

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They tell them their grandkid has been in a crash with a pregnant woman and has been arrested and needs bail money, but the scammer tells the grandparent they can't tell anyone about it because the case has a gag order.

"Them being good grandparents, they get that money out. They give it to that person who they think is a court-appointed person, an attorney, and they think they're helping their family and simply, they're not. They're getting robbed," tech expert and President of PCS Anthony Mongeluzo said.

In two instances, AG Moody says scammers contacted the same victim multiple times, upping the story for more cash. One victim was told the baby’s father attacked the grandson and that during the scuffle her grandson elbowed a police officer, meaning they would now need $20,000 more in bail money. Both victims lost more than $50,000 each.

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"These fraudsters and these criminals are very sophisticated. My suggestion would be to always call your grandchild or your family member first," Moody said.

Investigators say the victims put the cash in a box to be picked up by a courier, who were unknowing ride-share drivers booked by the criminals, who picked up the box and dropped it off at an arranged location.

Investigators arrested six people as part of the scheme, including 28-year-old Gennesis Castro and 32-year-old Ada Tido, who are both currently in the Miami-Dade County Jail facing several charges, including organized scheme to defraud and criminal use of personal identification.

As Mongeluzo explains, anytime you get an unknown call, look out for key characteristics typically part of any scam.

"Any time anyone asks you for anything in cash, cryptocurrency, gift cards, something that's not traceable. Number one, that's a major red flag. Number two, if someone who you don't know is calling you without any official letter, any official notice, any judgment. I would immediately call your local police," Mongeluzo said.

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