A Canadian citizen allegedly bilked Minnesota senior citizens out of more than $15,000 by calling them, posing as their grandson and asking them to send money for bail and rental car repairs.

Robert Attias, whose last known address was in Miami, was charged by warrant in Dakota County on Wednesday in connection with the phone scams in January and February 2010.

He has not been arrested, and his whereabouts are unknown.

Attias, 33, is accused of stealing $15,525 from senior citizens in Hastings, Glencoe, St. Paul, Olmsted County and Steele County.

"Scams of this nature targeting senior citizens are sad and disgraceful," Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said.

According to the charges, Attias or someone working with him called five victims repeatedly.

In the first call, he often claimed to be a grandson in need of bail money following an arrest. That call was sometimes followed by another in which he said he was a lawyer and told the grandparents where to send the money.

In some cases, police say, Attias posed as a grandson in need of money for rental car repairs or to pay for the trip home.

Once the money had been wired to Florida in Attias' name, he picked it up, alternately using driver's licenses and identification cards from Florida and Quebec.

"These crimes are widespread and unfortunately a lot of victims fail to even report these crimes," Backstrom said. "They're not easy to track down and trace. This one was a little easier because he did use his name."

One victim from Glencoe sent $6,359 to Attias and paid $560 in fees before realizing it was not her grandson calling.

Backstrom urged people to be aware of similar telephone scams and cautioned to never send money or give out personal information without verifying the identity of the caller and the need for the money.

Officials are asking anyone else who may have been a victim in this case to call Hastings police at 651-480-2300.

Katie Humphrey • 952-882-9056