New twist on grandparent scam leaves Tampa family frightened

Scammers have come up with a new, terrifying twist on what’s known as the grandparent scam. Rafael Caminero, of Tampa, knows all too well just how scary and believable it can be.

Caminero was staying alone at his daughter’s house recently when the phone rang. A sobbing voice on the other end pleaded for help. He asked if it was his son-in-law Keith. The voice said “yes” and then said he needed to speak with his “lawyer.” Things went downhill quickly.

The man, who claimed to be David Thomas, said he was an attorney and that Caminero’s family had been in a terrible accident and Keith was in jail. Caminero was asked to send $2,000 to help bail Keith out. When he said he couldn’t drive, the scammer sent a cab to pick him up and take him to a Western Union at a nearby Publix grocery store.

“He’s crying and saying, ‘Dad, dad, they have taken everything from me. They have taken my wallet,” Caminero said. “I had to try to get the money to him.”

It was all a lie, a new twist on a similar phone scam. But, this scam kicks up the danger by involving a cab ride. Caminero’s daughter, Mary Ann, is angry and saddened that a stranger tried to hurt her father.

“He gave them the address and left the door unlocked because he did not know where the key was and got into a cab. The cab could have been anybody,” Mary Ann said.

The family turned over the information, along with phone numbers for the scammer, to the Florida Attorney General’s Office for investigation. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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