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82-year-old Indy man ripped off $52,000 by con artist who pretended to be grandson

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INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indianapolis man loses tens of thousands of dollars to con artists.  The 82-tear-old victim told police he paid $52,000 to someone pretending to be his grandson, only to later realize he’d been ripped off.

On the opposite end of town, last week police took another report from an 85-year-old woman who reported being scammed out of $16,000 by someone who falsely claimed to be her grandson.

Experts warn it’s a crime that’s become all too common.

“That particular scam falls in one of the top five scams in 2016,” said Tim Maniscalo with the Better Business Bureau.

Maniscalo says scammers who make phone calls pretending to be loved ones in need of money ranked as one of the most common causes of fraud across the country last year.

Although no one is immune, the elderly are especially vulnerable to high dollar thefts.

“Millennials tend to be scammed more often, but for lower amounts of money.  The older you get, you’re not scammed as often, but those scams tend to be for larger amounts of money and in this case quite a bit of money,” said Maniscalo.

The police report filed by the 82-year-old man explains that the scammer said his grandson had been in a car accident in Mexico and needed to pay medical expenses or he wouldn’t be let out of the country.

In the other report, the scammer claimed the victim’s grandson had been arrested and needed money to get out of jail.

Both cases could have been avoided with a little caution.

“Don’t make an emotional decision.  Check it out.  Get the facts.  Don’t give people money that easily,” said Maniscalo.

Maniscalo says thieves often access websites like Ancestry.com to get detailed family histories, making their scams all the more convincing.

“If a scammer wants to know about your grandchildren or parents, they can find out and sound like they know your family.  It’s not hard to get that information,” said Maniscalo.

Neither victim wanted to go on camera.

One of the victims did recover 4 thousand dollars, but that is still just a small fraction of what they lost.