A San Francisco woman last week told cops she wired $2,800 to Spain to bail out her jailed son — even though her son was actually in the Bay Area.
Police at the Ingleside station say the woman was duped by a common phone scam that has victims wiring wads of cash to foreign lands under false pretenses. The con jobs, which typically target the elderly, are the rise in the Bay Area, according to police.
The woman said a man phoned her saying authorities in Spain were holding her son. He convinced her to send $2,800 via Western Union, and she did.
"It was not until the victim was able to contact her daughter-in-law that she discovered that her son was still in the Bay Area," police said.
The good news? Apparently the thief took too long in Spain to pick up the money. She reclaimed the cash, and there was no loss, police said.
Other victims aren’t so lucky.
This month, San Mateo police issued a warning to its residents after three elderly women reported being duped by phone scams.
A crook convinced a San Mateo resident that he was her grandson and needed money following an arrest for drunken driving in New York.
Another crook claimed to be a public defender needing cash for legal expenses. The money was wired to Madrid, police said.
Even locals who didn’t fall for the scam have endured grief. A Peninsula man was told in a scam phone call that he won a $1 million prize — and then told he would be shot in the head if he did not take steps to claim the sham prize.
The man, who lives in an unincorporated area of Redwood City, called police Feb. 11. He said a scammer from Jamaica, who called himself Peter Myers, had called him repeatedly for months saying he represented the Prize Patrol.
Myers tried to get the man to wire $300 to Jamaica, which the scammer said was needed in order to deliver his prize of $1 million.
The victim said the person threatened to shoot him in the head if he did not pay. A deputy with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office went to the victim’s home and called the scammer’s phone number.
The scammer told the deputy that he would shoot him, too, according to the Sheriff’s Office.