Troutdale Sheriff Ben Watkins sent out an alert this week that should give any senior in the area pause: Beware the "grandchild scam."

Residents should be on the lookout for criminals trying to bilk older Troutdalians out of their fortunes by pretending to be their grandchildren.

"Basically what they do is call up anybody with grandkids and then impersonate that grandkid," Sheriff Watkins said. "They usually claim to be in some kind of trouble, and in desperate need of cash—maybe to get out of jail, maybe they're pregnant and need an abortion, maybe they want an Xbox, maybe the mafia's after them for gambling debts."

The scam artist then asks the grandparent to wire money "to Walmart or somewhere," where it is then picked up and stolen.

Watkins' advice?

"Never, under any circumstances, send money to your grandchildren, or scam artists claiming to be your grandchildren," Watkins said. "Truthfully, there is usually very little difference between the two."