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Brownwood man loses $2,000 in 'grandparent scam'

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BROWNWOOD, Texas - Brownwood police say a scammer pretended to be a man's distressed grandchild and stole $2,000 from him.

Wallace Roark, 82, told Brownwood police on Monday he received a call about a month ago from a person sounding like his grandson. The suspect told Roark he needed bail money after getting arrested for driving under the influence.

"I read about these scams of elderly people for years, and I have thought all that time that I'm far too smart to get caught in one of those things," Roark said Wednesday.

The Better Business Bureau said Roark was a victim of the "grandparent scam." According to the group's website, senior citizens are frequent targets because they are often trusting and quickly willing to help loved ones.

"[The suspect] said, ‘If I had $2,000 in the next couple, three hours, this will all be take care of. I don't think it would [stay] on my record,'" Roark said.

The 82-year-old went to a store and purchased four gift cards worth $500 each, according to the police report. It was money Roark needed to pay bills.

But when he asked his grandson about the $2,000 a month later in an email, he was clueless.

"He wrote back and said, ‘Grandpa, I don't know what you're talking about. [Is] this some kind of joke?' That's all he wrote," Roark said. "I wrote back and said, ‘This is no joke.'"

The Better Business Bureau of Abilene said that over the past 12 months, 27 people in Texas reported this scam.

The BBB has several tips for senior citizens to avoid becoming victims of this scam. Know the red flags – be skeptical of frantic calls, stay calm – people act irrationally under pressure, and ask a personal question – try to confirm their identity.

As of Wednesday, no suspects were identified in the scam.

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