NEW BERLIN -- It's a scam that has been going on for years. A parent or grandparent gets a phone call saying their child is in danger. But money can spare them from harm. New Berlin police tell FOX6 News, there has been a recent spike in calls of this kind.
"What we usually see is a grandchild in distress; a grandchild has been arrested, in an accident," said Capt. Mike Glider of the New Berlin Police Department. "These people are very good at what they do. They talk quickly. They talk out of breath. They'll give a name if they've done research as to what a grandchild's name actually is. They'll use that name."
They ask for help and request money to be wired. This same scenario has played out at least five times in the last week in New Berlin.
"Normally we would probably have five over maybe a six-month period," said Glider.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office is investigating a similar case in which a father received a call from a local number. He answered it only to find the caller was someone he had never met. Still, that person told the father they had his daughter and he wanted $1,500. The father flagged down a police officer and handed him a note with that same information. Police were able to trace that phone call to somewhere in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The father did not send any money -- and police were able to make contact with the daughter shortly after the scam call. Officials say the daughter was not in danger -- and was not aware of the investigation at that point.
New Berlin police say that case is a reminder of how important it is to verify who really is on the other line.
"Even though they say don't call mom or dad, please call your son or daughter, your relatives and verify before you wire any kind of money. Do a lot of checking," said Glider.
That is important advice because if you wire the money, it is very unlikely you will ever get it back.
As for the five complaints filed in New Berlin, not one of them wired any money.