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Clearwater couple tricked into sending $10,000 has warning for others

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Alan and Anne Smith were tricked into sending $10,000 to a stranger. Alan and Anne Smith were tricked into sending $10,000 to a stranger.
CLEARWATER, FL (WFLA) -

A Clearwater couple who says they were tricked into sending $10,000 to a stranger, wants to warn others so they do not become victims.

"I'm aware of scams and I got sucked into this," said Alan Smith.

Alan and Anne Smith don't want to use their real names because they're afraid of being targeted again. On Monday, they received a call from someone claiming to be their grandson, Brian. He frantically told them about needing their help getting out of jail.

Then, a man came on the line identifying himself as "state police". He explained that Brian was a passenger in a car that authorities had stopped on Interstate 75.

The man said the driver had been under federal surveillance for narcotics and officers found drugs in the trunk. The man told the Smiths that they didn't think Brian was involved, but they had to detain him and he would need $10,000 cash for his bond.

They were told not to tell anyone because it was a federal case and they could be arrested for obstructing justice. The man explained that a Brinks truck would arrive to collect the cash.

"He sounded so official. Even when I called back, someone answered,"state police, may I help you?'," said Smith.

Then later, they learned they would have to Fed Ex the money overnight. The Smiths withdrew the cash and sent it.

Later, they became suspicious and called the Clearwater Police Department. The officer told them their grandson had not been arrested in the state of Florida. They knew they had been scammed.

They immediately contacted Fed Ex. They were able to retrieve their money before it left Fed Ex's Pinellas Park distribution site. It is now safely back in their bank account.

The Clearwater Police officer who came to their home called the phone number that the fake police officer gave the Smiths and asked for the state policeman's badge number and location. The man hung up.

Police said often these scammers use information they find over the internet and can conduct scams like this from hundreds of miles away. Investigators say people should be leery of anyone asking for a cash payment over the phone.

If you have doubts, hang up and call your local police department. The Clearwater Police Department has a Fraud Hotline (727)562-4424.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.



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