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3 From Philadelphia Area Charged With Perpetrating ‘Grandparent Scams’

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(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Four people, including three from the Philadelphia region, have been charged with what is being dubbed a “grandparent scam” involving at least 11 victims in eight states.

JJ Abbott, spokesman for the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, says the grand jury probe began with a complaint from a 77-year-old man in California.

“He had sent $6,600 to an address in Philadelphia that he thought was going to help his grandson.  He was contacted by someone purporting to be an attorney for his grandson, who had supposedly been arrested for a DUI in Philadelphia,” Abbott relates.

Abbott says more than $160,000 was taken by stoking false fears among targeted seniors that loved ones were in trouble.

Spencer Compas and Witson Lavilette, both of Philadelphia; Johanne Wesh of Abington, Montgomery County; and Kens Wesh, of New York, have been charged with identity theft, theft by deception, and other offenses.

Compas, Lavilette, and Johanne Wesh were taken into custody yesterday and were each being held on $1 million bail.  An arrest warrant was out for Ken Wesh.

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