Madison Police squad car tight crop

An elderly Madison couple thought they were helping a grandson who was in legal trouble.

$80,000 later, they stopped sending money to a scammer after a credit union employee felt something was amiss and called police.

The couple, both in their 80s, started sending money about a month ago after being convinced their grandson was in hot water.

"They had received several tearful calls from someone pretending to be their grandson," said Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain. "This person would then hand the phone to someone claiming to be a police officer."

The scam had the grandson in a car where drugs were found, and now he needed bail money and cash for legal fees.

"The scammers told the couple they couldn't tell anyone about it because the grandson didn't want his parents to know," DeSpain said.

After the couple took thousands of dollars out of their accounts and sent multiple payments to the thieves, an employee of the couple's credit union stepped in and called police this week.

"An investigating officer told the couple to send no more funds to an address they had been given in Michigan," DeSpain said.

A police department financial crimes detective was assigned to the case.


Bill Novak is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.