Keene police have arrested someone they allege was involved in a scam that targeted a local man by claiming his grandson was in jail.
Starlyn J. Lara, 26, of Hyde Park, Mass., was charged with felony attempt to commit theft by deception, the Keene Police Department said in a news release Thursday.
Grandparent scams are common and can involve callers claiming they have been robbed, arrested, in an accident, hospitalized or stuck in a foreign country, according to the AARP. Often, the supposed “grandchild” will hand the phone over to someone seemingly authoritative, like a supposed doctor or lawyer, and ask their grandparent not to tell their parents.
In this case, according to Keene police, someone contacted an elderly resident of Keene on Monday claiming to be his grandson. The caller said he was in trouble and his attorney would reach out, and a few minutes later the supposed attorney called to say the “grandson” needed lots of money for bail, Keene police said in the release.
The grandparent withdrew a large sum, went to a prearranged meeting in the parking lot of a local business and handed the money to an unknown person whom the supposed attorney identified as a courier, according to the release.
On Tuesday, Keene police said, the supposed attorney called back saying the grandson needed even more, and the grandparent went back to the bank to withdraw cash.
In speaking to the grandparent, a bank teller realized it was a scam and convinced the man to contact his family and the police, according to the news release.
On Wednesday, Keene police arranged a controlled delivery of money to the person who claimed to be the courier, later identified as Lara, the department said.
Lara was arrested without incident, according to police, and was scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon.
Keene police said scammers can exploit information from public records to deceive people in cases like this. The department warned the public to be on guard and contact police if someone calls asking for a large amount of cash.
“The Keene Police remind everyone that no law enforcement agency, court or attorney will contact you by phone and ask you to withdraw large sums of cash to be delivered in person or ... by other means,” the department wrote in the release.