Just a few days ago I received this call from my husband, Dan, who said he had a phone call from a person who called him “grandpa.” His voice sounded like our grandson, Cole, and so he believed it was him.
The young man said he was in New York City and in trouble. He was in an accident, and was driving someone else’s car. When my husband asked him why he was in New York, he said he and a few friends had gone there for a break to see the city.
This was a red flag because Cole won a fellowship from Ohio University‘s Scripts School of Journalism to work for the Columbus Dispatch for this spring semester reporting on the state legislature. But once again Dan thought it sounded just like him and he also knew these scams took place. This just shows how a person can get sucked in when they hear “grandpa.”
The young man on the phone said the problem was an open liquor bottle in the car that he didn’t know was there, and when the police arrived at the scene, they arrested him for an open container of alcohol. He was in jail, and hoped Grandpa could help him get out. Jail officials had allowed him one call. Dan had the phone number and presumed it was the jail phone.
The young man added that the driver of the other car was a pregnant woman who was still in the hospital for observation. Also he reported that his nose was bleeding and jail officials were getting him some help.
He asked Dan not to tell anyone else until he got out. He would then tell his mom and dad when he got home. Immediately Dan told the caller he should tell them now.
The “fake grandson” then told Dan that a court-appointed attorney had been obtained for him, and that this attorney would be calling him shortly to explain the situation. He asked help in any way to get him out of jail.
The caller gave Dan (who is a real attorney) his case number and said the attorney would need that number. Dan said, “I started to ask more questions, but he cut me off and said his time was up, then hung up.”
“About 10 minutes later, a person with a slight accent called me and told me that he was the attorney and was rather vague about the incident, “Dan said, “He asked me for the case number, and I told him that if he is representing my grandson, he would know that number. I was now quite leery about whole thing. When he gave me the case number, I asked him the name of the person he was representing. He told me he couldn’t give me the name since it was confidential and part of attorney-client privilege. I then knew for certain it was a scam.”
“I told him I was in an important meeting and couldn’t talk any further. I told him I would call him back at the number he called from, but he said he didn’t want me to do that. He tried to continue the conversation, but I again told him I would have to call him back. At that point, I told him all he wanted was to illegally take money from me, and he abruptly hung up.”
Quickly, Dan called our grandson and when he answered he told him he was in Columbus attending a legislative conference he was covering for the Columbus Dispatch. So, with that he made sure Cole was not in New York, and breathed a sigh of relief.
Dan said, “I knew for sure that I had been part of a scam that is not a new one and involves a call to a grandparent for monetary help to get out of trouble. I also knew someone who several years ago was the victim of the same kind of scam, and nearly paid money to bail his grandson out.”
The puzzling thing is how these criminals got his phone number and that for seven or eight years it has been going on.
It’s amazing how a family member can be fooled even when they know about the scam. “He really sounded like Cole and had me fooled for a while. The odd thing is that the ‘fake grandchild’ called me a second time about a half hour after the “attorney” call to ask me if I had helped him. He again sounded much like my grandson, but I knew it wasn’t him. I asked him for his name, and he immediately hung up.”
Other scams to be aware of are over the phone or by email where they tell the victim that he or she has won a large prize or inherited a large sum of money, but details are needed about the victim’s bank account so the money can be wired into their account. Don’t bite on these scams. Always remember the old adage, “If it appears hard to believe it’s true, it most likely isn’t.”
(Melanie Behrens- firstname.lastname@example.org )
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