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Jefferson County couple victim of scam

April 14, 2012
By JEREMY KINS - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

WINTERSVILLE - A Jefferson County couple is sending out a warning to area residents after falling prey to a scam Thursday.

At 10 a.m. their phone rang, and on the other end was who they believed at the time was their granddaughter, who they thought have been in Columbus attending medical school at Ohio State University, said the couple, who asked to remain anonymous.

"She said that she had been arrested and placed in jail after she and three friends were pulled over for speeding. She said the officer smelled alcohol and then searched the car and found drugs. When none of them admitted to the drugs being theirs, they were all placed under arrest. This is what I was told," the grandfather said.

"She was begging us not to tell her mother and saying she wanted to tell them herself, and that's when the phone was handed over to the (supposed) bail officer," he said.

The grandfather said the person on the other end of the line was a female who couldn't have been more polite and kind.

"She said her name was Nancy Bradshaw and that she was with an international bail bond office. She even joked about how her last name was the same as the football player," the grandfather said.

It was then that the woman said she was interested in their granddaughter because after she supposedly returned a negative urine test, she believed the girl was innocent, according to the couple.

"Nancy then told us that to get her out of jail, it would cost $2,400 for bail," the grandfather explained.

"I was told to make the transaction through Western Union and to make it out to the name of our daughter. It was being sent to Lima, Peru. So, I called back and gave them the verification number and they said our granddaughter would be released in an hour," he said, adding it was explained to him that even though she was jailed in Columbus, the bail firm was an international company, and that was why the money was being sent to Peru.

It wasn't even 25 minutes later that the supposed-granddaughter called back requesting more money, he explained. The man and women were led to believe that the supposed prosecuting attorney decided to charge all four in the car because no one would admit guilt.

He said Nancy said that since the charges had been elevated, it would cost another $2,400 for her to be released. She also told them not to use the same Western Union office.

"So, we sent another $2,400. The reason we were going through all of this was because of her schooling. If what was happening was true, it would have wiped away her chances at medical school. That's just one of the things that was going through our mind during this," the couple said.

Not soon after that, the phone rang for a third time.

"This time, Nancy said that the supposed prosecuting attorney went before the judge and he had decided to charge them all with a felony that would bring them one year in jail and a $12,000 fine. She then mentioned that the court would settle for $4,200 for her release, which this time was requested to be sent to Ecuador," the grandfather said.

After this third time, the grandmother started to wonder about the validity of the requests, so she called their grandson and told him to go to the jail and see if his sister was there.

"He laughed and said she wasn't in jail. So, we then did some research and found out the number calling us was based in Quebec and we contacted our granddaughter," the couple said.

"We didn't think to call her because we thought we had already talked to her and she wouldn't have had her phone in jail," the couple said. "We just want to warn the area that a scam is going on. If something like this happens, call the sheriff and then get the kid on the phone."

The girl's mother stated she will be contacting an attorney at Ohio State and that she wants to talk with officials about warning students and their families for these kind of scams.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said Friday that he has seen five or six identical scams in the last few years.

"It's the same exact thing in each of these cases, down to the granddaughter crying, and they always target the grandparents," Abdalla said.

He urges residents to follow through when these incidents happen and contact the sheriff's department.

"This is becoming prevalent in the county and most don't file because they are embarrassed, but they need to understand that they should," Abdalla said.

(Follow Kins @JKinsHS on Twitter.)

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