Letters to the editor: It happened to me
I’m writing this to warn other grandparents of an elaborate scam I experienced.
A few days ago, I received a phone call that no grandmother wants to receive. The scammer actually used the name of one of my grandsons in the call.
As he sobbed convincingly, he claimed that he was in a bad car accident and that he was in jail in New York City. He said he was cut up and bruised and broke his nose, but that he was really worried about a pregnant woman who had been badly injured in the other car.
He begged me to call his lawyer, and not to tell anyone about his accident. I called the number he gave me. The “lawyer” explained that my grandson had been arrested on multiple charges and his bail had been set for $250,000. I told him I didn’t have that kind of money. The “lawyer” replied that since it was his first offense, he would try to get the bail reduced. We agreed on a smaller but still significant amount of money that I was to withdraw from my bank, in cash. He instructed me to bring it to the NYC courthouse. I explained that I was nowhere near NYC. He asked for my zip code and said he would find a place for me to deliver the money. I was instructed to call him back when I had the cash, but that I should hurry.
I grabbed my purse and was ready to rush out the door when the phone rang again, this time from a close friend. I told her the story. She said “Ginny, it sounds like a scam.” I stopped a took a deep breath and called my grandson’s mother. I asked her if she had heard from her son lately. She said that he was with her now. It was then I realized that I had, indeed, been the victim of an elaborate scheme, perpetrated by talented scam artists. I almost lost an enormous amount of money.
What made the scam so convincing was that he used my grandson’s first name. The scam artists had certainly done their homework. I didn’t realize that kind of personal information is readily available on the internet. If you are ever subject to such a call, be sure to ask the perpetrator to reveal something that only your close family would know before you agree to do anything. There are bad people out there and we must all learn to protect ourselves.