Beware: Scam of Grandparents


“Beware: Scam of Grandparents” by Joan Y. Edwards

Recently I ate breakfast with a friend of mine.  For this blog, I changed his name to protect him. I’m calling him, Grandpa Leroy.

Grandpa Leroy told me about how he almost got scammed of $3,800.00. That raised my eyebrows to hear him say that big amount of money. Let me explain. Leroy received a phone call.

Here’s the way the conversation went:

Scammer #1 Posing as Grandson: Hello, Grandpa. Do you recognize my voice? Do you know who this is?
Grandpa Leroy: Is it Jake?
Scammer #1 Posing as Grandson: Yes, Grandpa. It’s me, Jake.
Grandpa Leroy: How are you?
Scammer #1 Posing as Grandson: I was doing okay. I was down in Mexico with a couple of friends. We were on our way back to Texas when our car broke down. The police stopped and arrested us. They found drugs in the car.
Grandpa Leroy: Oh, my goodness.
Scammer #1 Posing as Grandson: I’m here at the American Embassy. They say if you send me a MoneyGram from Wal-Mart for $3,800.00, it will get me out of jail and a plane ticket home. Would you be able to help me out, Grandpa. Will you send me the money?
Grandpa Leroy:  Yes. I’ll send you the money. Tell me what to do and who to send it to.
Scammer #1 Posing as Grandson: Just a minute, Grandpa. The man from the American Embassy will tell you who to send it to and all. Thank you, Grandpa. I love you.
Grandpa Leroy: You’re welcome.
Scammer #1 Posing as Grandson: Here’s the man from the American Embassy.
Scammer #2 Posing as Man from the American Embassy: This is the American Embassy.
Grandpa Leroy: Hello.
Scammer #2 Posing as Man from the American Embassy: Don’t tell anyone about this. Take $3,800 dollars cash from your bank. If they ask why, don’t tell them. Take it to your local Wal-Mart. Tell them you want to send a MoneyGram to Sam Sneaky (my name for American Embassy Impostor)  in Mexico City, Mexico.
Grandpa Leroy: Okay. I’ve got that all written down.
Scammer #2 Posing as Man from the American Embassy:  Okay. I’m going to call back at 1:00 p.m. today to make sure you sent the money. Then we’ll get your grandson, Jake, out of jail and send him home.
Grandpa Leroy: Okay.

It is indeed sad that people do things like this. Preying on the unsuspecting elderly who might not know where their grandchildren are. However, this one has a happy ending. The good guys win.

Grandpa Leroy went to the bank and withdrew $3,800.00 in cash. He went to the closest Wal-Mart. When he told a woman at the service desk what he wanted to do, she told him to wait just a minute. She went over to  her supervisor and told her what Leroy wanted to do. The lady supervisor came over and talked to him.

Wal-Mart Supervisor: Leroy, we can’t do this. Someone is trying to scam you. We can’t send money like that. I have a letter warning the Wal-Mart employees about this grandparent scam.

Grandpa Leroy was so excited that Wal-Mart warned him and was unwilling to send the money. Wal-Mart said there had been 4 other cases locally, similar to Grandpa Leroy’s. Grandpa Leroy took his money and put it back in the bank. Then he went to the police. He told them that someone had tried to scam him out of a lot of money. They told him, “It was someone impersonating your grandchild, wasn’t it?” They guessed it before he had a chance to tell them. The police told Grandpa Leroy to tell everyone he knew about it so they would be forewarned.

When Grandpa Leroy got back home, he happened to think that he had his grandson’s cell phone number. He could have called it to check on him earlier. However, he was too emotionally involved and intent on saving his grandson. He didn’t think of calling earlier. So when he got back home, he called his grandson using his cell phone.

Grandpa Leroy: Jake, where are you? Are you all right?
Jake The Real Grandson: “I’m fine, Grandpa. I’m here with Mother and Daddy eating at a restaurant here in town.”

Then Leroy started telling him the Scammer story. About that time, the house phone rang. It was Scammer #2 calling to check to see if Leroy had sent the money. Leroy let his grandson listen from the cell phone. He put it close to the earpiece of the house phone.

Scammer #2 posing as Man from American Embassy: Did you send the money?
Grandpa Leroy: No, Wal-Mart wouldn’t send it.
Scammer #2 posing as Man from American Embassy: You can send it through Western Union.
Grandpa Leroy: No. I called my grandson, and he is okay and is with his parents.
Scammer #2 posing as Man from American Embassy: Oh.

Then Scammer #2 hung up the phone.

********************************************************************************************

There is a link to similar things on Snopes: http://www.snopes.com/fraud/distress/family.asp.

Some of the other scams had higher sums of money needed.  Use caller ID. Ask for names and phone numbers. Tell them you’ll call them right back. Ask them questions only your real grandson will be able to answer correctly.

My purpose in writing this is to warn you about this scam. I hope hearing Grandpa Leroy’s story will keep you and your loved ones from being cheated/scammed/conned out of your money and be saved from deep emotional turmoil. Hurray for Wal-Mart’s employees who look out for their customers. Hurray for my friend who had the courage and love to share his story with me.

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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright 2012 © Joan Y. Edwards

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18 Responses

  1. Great post. How sad that people would stoop so low to scam the elderly this way. Glad your friend was saved the loss of his money.

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    • Dear Roseanne,
      Thank you for writing. It is indeed very sad that people would stoop so low as to scam the elderly this way. I rejoice with you and my friend that he was saved the loss of his money.

      Celebrate you today.
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  2. This is a terrible thing. I couldn’t help but think, though, if this had been done say through Facebook or Email people would be talking about how evil the internet is and how dangerous those means of communication are. But no one will say that about the telephone. Bottom line, it’s never the medium, it’s always the one using the medium that is dangerous.

    Basically, everyone should start with the assumption things are not true until proven differently when it comes to money or personal saftety.

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    • Dear Terri,
      Thanks for writing. Yes, you are right. People should blame the person, not the mode of communication. Everyone should start with the assumption things are not true until proven differently when it comes to money or personal safety. When you get emotionally involved, you sometimes don’t think as straight as you usually would. These scammers play on your emotions. When you know about possible threats, you can plan your questions and mode of surviving without being scammed. That’s what I hope happens.

      Celebrate you today
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  3. Joan,
    Thanks for warning. It’s hard not to get emotionally involved and lose sight of reason when someone tries to pull something like this on you.

    Like

    • Dear Linda,
      You’re welcome. Thanks for writing. You’re right, it’s hard not to get emotionally involved when your family members safety seems to be at risk. Being alert and having an idea of what questions to ask, will help keep this from happening to you and your loved ones.

      Celebrate you today
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  4. Thank goodness this scam you mention was averted, and thank you for sharing. It’s a great reminder to all of us to be more aware of what’s occurring around us. Most especially, to ask questions of people on the other end of a communication to be sure they are who they say the are, which is harder to remember when it’s an emotional situation.
    Thank you Joan.

    Like

    • Dear Claire,
      Thanks for writing. You’re welcome for my sharing. I didn’t want this type of thing to happen to any of my readers, nor their family or friends. It is indeed a blessing that Grandpa Leroy was able to avert this scam due to quick thinking Wal-Mart employees. You’re right. Asking questions of people to certify that they are who they say they are is a good thing to do. When we’re angry and/or afraid, our emotions trigger a fight or flight response and our brains do little thinking because the blood has gone to our muscles. Being calm and alert and asking questions helps in most situations.

      Celebrate you today
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  5. Hi Joan, Long time no write! We’ve been moving this summer and are just settling back into home schooling. I’ve got some writing ideas too and hope I’ll get to explore them soon. Thanks for the great blog post and for continuing to cheer us on. You are such an encouragement to me as I go through this season of life not having much of any writing time. I do plan to get back to it, and keep jotting notes while I can. In the meantime, keep up the good work! A wordmunchers alumni 🙂

    Like

    • Dear Lara,
      It’s good to hear from you as Penelope Spinkbottle. That’s a catchy name. It should be a book title. Glad you are moved and settled in. It’s great that you have writing ideas. Plan to use 5 minutes each day to write at least 25 words. You can do it. Thank you for saying I encourage you. I love to encourage people. We miss you in Wordmunchers. You can write a short piece for a children’s magazine. Enjoy being you. Being happy and thankful for where you are enables you to get where you want to be.

      Celebrate you today.
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  6. thanks for posting this. unbelievable.

    Like

    • Dear Carol,
      You’re very welcome. It is unbelievable, isn’t it? I’m so glad that Grandpa Leroy was able to be saved from this scam.

      Celebrate you
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  7. That is so sad, but great that Walmart was able to rescue Grandpa before he sent the money. It’s sad that people believe this is a honourable way to live, scamming others.

    Like

    • Dear Joylene,
      Thanks for writing. You’re right, it is sad. It is indeed great that Wal-Mart was able to rescue Grandpa Leroy before he sent the money.

      Celebrate you and your caring for people
      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  8. These “blankety blank blanks” tried to scam my Nana and Grandpa this morning. They said it was my little brother and he was in Peru for a friends wedding and that he has been in a bad accident. Im so thankful my Nana wasn’t home alone because she probably would have sent them money. She thought something was weird because we are all extremely close and talk to each other everyday. She passed the phone to my grandpa and he said “If this is Mikey then tell me your address”. As soon as he said that the person hung up. This really pisses me off. They are 91 years old. These people apparently call early in the morning or late at night when older people will not be thinking clearly at all. As soon as I left their house I went right home and looked it up online. I told them to warn all their friends. This is just so horrible. It breaks my heart that people could do this. Oh I also heard that these people are getting more advanced because of facebook, twitter, etc. So make sure your privacy setting are set up correctly.

    Like

    • Dear Christa,
      Thanks for writing. I’m glad your Grandpa was there to ask questions of the scammer to save your Nana. Be sure and have your grandparents to report it to the police. You are right. We have to be careful with Facebook and Twitter. It’s good to check the privacy settings. I do hope that people will remember to ask questions and get answers before giving money. Spreading the word will help. Getting names and phone numbers of the scammers so that you can call them back might stop them. Or say, “Let me check with my lawyer.”
      Celebrate you and your love for your grandparents and other elderly people.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards

      Like

  9. […] fraud. They saved a friend from being scammed from a large amount of money (Read about it here: Beware: Scam of Grandparents). These fraudulent thieves were slick. Even Wal-Mart didn’t catch them.   According to what […]

    Like

    • Here’s a blog post about check fraud by me.

      Celebrate you.
      Never Give Up
      Joan

      Like

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