CENTERVILLE -- One phone call to his daughter saved Sal Giani from losing $1,800 to a con artist.
His daughter, Francine Giani, executive director of the Department of Commerce, was on hand Tuesday to talk to a man claiming to be a bail bondsman for her nephew.
"The grandson scam is coming out again, and we want our seniors and their families not to become victims," said Francine Giani.
Sal Giani, 88, of Centerville, got a telephone call earlier Tuesday claiming his grandson had been in a car accident in a foreign country, had been put in jail and needed money to bail out.
But that money had to be wired from a Western Union at the local Walmart to a bail bond company in the Dominican Republic, Sal Giani said.
"He said he would call back in an hour and a half to make sure I had wired the money," Sal Giani said.
Sal Giani drove to Walmart and was on the verge of getting the money when he decided to call his daughter, who at one time was the director of the Division of Consumer Protection.
"I'm really proud he called me," Francine Giani said.
Her nephew was not in a foreign country, but at work in Utah.
Francine Giani called the media to meet her and her father at his home at the designated time when the man was supposed to call.
And he did call back.
Sal Giani talked to him for a few minutes, then Francine Giani took over.
She asked the man several questions.
The answers "were a bunch of crap," Francine Giani said.
Francine Giani said the phone number that popped up on the caller ID of her father's phone was from Canada, but when she tried to call it, all she got was a busy signal.
Francine Giani said the state, as well as local police agencies, get phone calls every day from families of senior citizens who had fallen for the scam. In some cases, an alert bank teller or manager will call the division concerned that one of their customers is withdrawing large amounts of money to help a grandchild in a foreign country or to send money off because they have won a prize.
Investigations are difficult to do because the phone numbers cannot be traced, she said.
"The only solution is education. We have to talk to our senior population long and hard and tell them not to fall for these kind of phone calls," Francine Giani said.
Families need to take an interest in the senior population's lives and check up on them, she said.
Also, those who receive the phone calls and are concerned that a loved one may be in jail should contact a family member locally to verify the information.
They should also hang up on such callers, and not worry about offending a family member, Francine Giani said.
They should report any suspicious calls to their local police department as well as the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.
For more information or to file a consumer complaint, contact the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or go to www.consumerprotection.utah.gov.