AUSTINTOWN, Ohio - A local senior citizen is speaking out after being scammed out of nearly $10,000.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office estimates 200 people have been victims of the grandparent scam in the last two years.
Mary Bowald is one of those victims and she shared her story with 21 News at the Senior Fraud Forum in Austintown Thursday.
"I answered my phone one morning and a voice said, 'Hi grandma.' I said. 'Hi Dillon, what's up," Bowald said.
But the voice on the other end was not Mary Bowald's grandson, the person was a scammer.
The con artist made up a story that Mary's grandson needed nearly $10,000 wired to the Cayman Islands to get out of jail and to not have it on his record or the news.
"Well the reason I fed into it was because I thought it was my grandson," Bowald said. "He sounded just like my grandson. I didn't pursue it any further because I felt like I would be breaking his trust because I had told him I would not tell anybody."
Bowald isn't alone. Just in the last three weeks to a month, the Mahoning County Sheriff's Office reports there have been at least seven different types of scams perpetrated against seniors.
The schemes include false claims of having to pay fees to win lottery money, to get their next Social Security or Medicare check, or to protect their computer from a virus.
"The wire transfer is a key word for fraud or pre paid Visa or MasterCard, " said Manilath James, Consumer Educator with the Consumer Protection Center of the Ohio Attorney General's Office. "They sometimes ask you to put money on the card and as soon as you give them the numbers they have immediate access to those funds."
Once the money leaves the country, officials said they can't get it back. So officials and victims like Bowald are educating others on lessons learned.
Bowald advised people to be "more aware and ask more questions and just to think twice before you do something like this."