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2019's hot new scam: Using grandkids to scam money out of grandparents.

ST. PETERSBURG — There's a new scam out there aimed at older folks: "The grandparent scam," is where callers pose as grandchildren in an attempt to extort money, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Detectives said they have seen an increase in these calls since January. At least nine people have been targeted so far this year.

Here's how it works: The scammer pretends to be a grandchild of their target. The caller will concoct fake scenarios such as the grandchild is injured and at a hospital injured, or has been arrested and needs bail money.

The grandparent is then instructed to hide cash in a magazine and mail it — and to refrain from contacting law enforcement or other family members.

By the time the grandparent realizes it's a scam, detectives say, the money is long gone.

Anyone with information about this kind of scam or others is asked to contact Cpl. K. Frazho at the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office at (727) 582-6200.

Contact Caitlin Johnston at or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.