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SALT LAKE CITY — The state Department of Commerce Thursday received a report of a scam targeting the grandparents of LDS missionaries with a ploy that their grandchild was in trouble and needed them to send money.
According to the report, Idaho grandparents of a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received a call to send $3,885 via wire transfer to an alleged bail bondsman for bail and court fees to help their grandson, who supposedly was facing DUI charges.
The details of the family’s account mirror reports of others who have also reported the “grandparent scam” calls to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection. The con has drawn concern from the LDS Church.
“If family members receive a call of this nature, they should always hang up with the caller and contact the mission office or the church’s Missionary Department to verify the information,” said Elder Brent H. Nielson, executive director of the department. “If a missionary is indeed in trouble, the church would reach out to the family through their stake president, and would never ask for money from the family.”
“If a missionary is indeed in trouble, the church would reach out to the family through their stake president, and would never ask for money from the family.” - Elder Brent H. Nielson
Families with missionaries currently serving are advised to be careful about what they communicate publicly regarding their child’s location, names of companions or any other identifying details as to their location, which could be used for fraud, warned Francine Giani, Commerce Department executive director.
“Missionary families please be aware that fraudsters may be combing social media for names of grandchildren to create a fake emergency over the phone,” she said. “If you receive one of these calls, please hang up and call their parents before sending any money anywhere.”
She said this situation hit close to home for her because she has two daughters currently serving LDS missions.
“We need to be careful,” she said. “We need to have discussions with our grandparents and relatives indicating that if there is a problem, we should contact the mission office or the Missionary Department of the church.”