Several years ago, my stepson’s elderly grandparents in Michigan received a phone call from him saying he was in Australia in jail and needed money for bail. He begged them not to tell his parents.

He is their only grandchild. They were shocked and overwhelmed with concern. He told them how to send him the money — several thousand dollars — which they did immediately. A few days later he called for more financial help and they resciprocated again.

The efforts they undertook to get the money to him were stressful enough without the worries of his dire situation in a foreign country.

In reality, my responsible stepson was home with his wife and kids in Lake Elsinore with no idea of the agony and despair his grandparents underwent.

Eventually, the grandparents told his parents and the story unraveled with the grandparents learning they had been scammed and would never see the money again.

On page 14, Jay Pentrack tells of this scam hitting Idyllwild and reminds us all of some basic rules when dealing with phone and email callers.

I understand how someone falls for the grandparent scam because the scammer baits you with your own personal information, thus appealing to your heart.

But one scam I find difficult to believe is at all successful usually originates from some very sad place in Africa, most often Nigeria.

The scam writer addresses you with respect, opening with  a creative writing appeal such as, “May I crave your indulgence to open this business discussion by a formal letter of this sort.”

The emailing pleader often claims nobility and appeals to your concern about their welfare. They need asylum or money for charitable deeds. Just pop $5,000 in a bank account and I’ll be fine.

This scam must be successful because it’s been around for years, but this heart just doesn’t beat with sympathy.

Becky Clark, Editor