DeWine warns Ohioans of ‘grandparent scam’

By Marc Kovac


Joe Patton was taking an afternoon nap at his Columbus-area home earlier this year when he received a frantic phone call.

The person on the other end of the line claimed to be his great-nephew, who had been to town not too long before visiting Ohio State University. The caller said he had been arrested in Texas for drunken driving and needed thousands of dollars to get out of jail.

Forty-five minutes later, Patton managed to wire more than $6,000 to someone he didn’t know. It wasn’t until the next day that Patton realized he was the victim of a telephone scam.

“But by that time, the money was long gone,” he said. “To make a long story short, I lost $6,200 in principal money plus fees of $335, for a total of $6,535.”

Patton spoke Thursday during a press conference with Attorney General Mike DeWine, drawing attention to what’s being called the “grandparent scam” in which crooks call unsuspecting people claiming to be a family member in trouble in some far-off locale. The resulting transactions involve wire transfers that are often difficult to track, leaving victims with no means of getting their money back.

DeWine said his office has fielded about 100 complaints this year from people who have lost as much as $18,000.

“We are seeing in the attorney general’s office the tip of the iceberg,” DeWine said. “Most people who have a scam committed against them never call ... Some never report it at all. Some are too embarrassed to report it.”

DeWine urged residents to be suspicious of people calling and asking for money to be wired to them. He said Ohioans should verify the identities of the callers, asking questions that only a family member could answer.

“Ask them a birth date,” DeWine said. “Ask them when the last time they got together with you — something that only that child could know.”

Potential scam victims can contact the attorney general’s office at 800-282-0515 or online at

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