According to a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release, dated Nov. 18, 2011:
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has been receiving complaints of phone scams during the last week. The phone scammers are calling the victim and referring to the victim as “Grandpa or Grandma” or “Mom or Dad “. The suspect is telling the victim they are their grandchild and will have the correct name of the person they are impersonating. They are telling the victim they are in legal trouble or in jail, or their car has broken down in another country such as Mexico, Canada. They tell the victim to wire money using Western Union to an out of country location. They will give the victim the name of a law enforcement agency or foreign embassy holding them and a set time limit to send the money. They are telling the victims if they do not receive the money bad things will happen to them. Sometimes a second suspect will get on the phone and tell the caller the person being held will be tortured or held in custody longer if they are not sent the money immediately.
These types of calls are being experienced nationwide. The suspects are accessing Facebook accounts and other internet sites to learn as much as possible about the victim’s family to attempt to extort the money from them. If you receive such a call, check with other family members about the alleged captives status. Anytime someone solicits a money order, your credit card information or other account information over the telephone you should be suspicious. You can also call your local law enforcement agency for advice.