A elderly Fox Point couple was taken for nearly $11,000 when someone posing as their granddaughter called crying, saying she'd been arrested in Canada.
The woman told Fox Point police the afternoon of Oct. 19, she received a phone call from someone posing as her granddaughter. The “granddaughter” was crying on the phone and said that she was in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, and had just been arrested. She said she and some friends were in Canada attending a funeral of another friend, when they were stopped by police. According to the Fox Point police report, the caller said her friend who owned the vehicle did not have proper license and registration, so the local police searched the car and located cocaine inside. Everyone inside the car was arrested, the "granddaughter" told the Fox Point woman, and the granddaughter needed money immediately to be bailed out of jail.
The wife said the woman on the other end of the phone sounded similar to her granddaughter, the police report said. The caller said she needed the money wired immediately for bail and provided a phone number to the Canadian police department where she said she was held, the report said.
The grandparents hung up and called back the number they were given for details on where to send the money. They spoke with a "Sgt. Melvin Jones III" of the Chilliwack Police Department. Sgt. Jones said the grandparents needed to wire $4,100 to get their granddaughter out of jail the report said. He said if they wired the money up to Canada, the paperwork would take nearly two weeks to complete, so if they wanted their granddaughter out of jail immediately, they should wire the money to Panama according to the report. He then gave the grandparents his badge number and a case number.
They went to Walmart on East Capitol Drive in Milwaukee and wired $4,100 to someone in Panama at 1:30 p.m., the report said.
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When the grandparents got home, they received another call from "Sgt. Jones," who said the police needed more money for legal fees before their granddaughter could be released. They returned to Walmart and wired another $3,800 to someone else in Panama at 5:23 p.m.
When they got home for the second time, they received another call from "Sgt. Jones" who said that there were more unforeseen fees their granddaughter needed to pay before they released, her the report said. The grandparents went back to Walmart and wired another $3,000 to a a third name in Panama at 7:19 p.m., for a grand total of $10,900.
They told police they were uncomfortable with the situation and found a number for the Chilliwack office of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the internet. They contacted the department and were told there wasn't anyone named "Sgt. Melvin Jones III" working there and the phone number they were originally given didn’t belong to the department.
The grandparents called their granddaughter directly on her cell phone and she confirmed she was not in Canada, nor in custody. She was actually in Baltimore, MD.
They turned over the receipts from the three transactions to Fox Point police, who contacted the watch commander at the Chilliwack office in Canada to explain what had happened.
The commander told Fox Point police he was aware of the scheme from other instances in their jurisdiction, but could not recount any instances of his department being specifically used to obtain fraudulent money. Fox Point police attempted to call the number the grandparents were given, but it went straight to voicemail and the auto message said the customer "hadn’t set up a voicemail box yet," the report said.
The grandparents contacted Walmart to try and recover the money they had wired, but they were told the transactions are completed within 15 minutes of the paperwork being signed. They said they believe their information may have been obtained through their granddaughter's Facebook page, which showed a picture of them with their granddaughter on a boat in British Columbia, Canada, according to the report.