The so-called grandparent scam has been a favorite of con artists for several years as modern day scum-suckers continue to try to steal honest people’s money (and often succeed).
It preys upon elderly folk who would do anything for a grandson or granddaughter during a moment of peril.
You know the routine: the phone rings and the grandson shrilly and excitedly exclaims: “Grandma! I’m in jail and they’re saying I need $4,000 to get out … but I didn’t do anything wrong!”
But it’s not really the grandson. Grandma thinks it is, though, and she transfers four grand into the crook’s clutches.
It happens a lot … even around here.
A Bickley couple — the Dentons, ages 90 and 88 — were targeted this week. Thankfully, their daughter happened to be at their home and she saved the day.
“The caller said, ‘This is Matt and I rear-ended a car in Jacksonville and they just arrested me!’ My brother Bobby does have a son named Matt. This obviously wasn’t him, though,” said Beth Nelson, who immediately recognized that it was a con attempt. “I pretended to be my mother and played along,” she said.
The caller, “Matt,” told her he only had a minute to spend on the phone but that a payment of $6,500 by bank transfer was absolutely needed immediately to save his bacon, and to expect another call momentarily from “Mr. Burkhardt,” the attorney who would explain the process in full.
Sure enough, Nelson said, “Mr. Burkhardt” called within 10 minutes time to arrange for a transfer of money.
“I pretended to be my mother and went along with the ‘lawyer’ to a point,” she said. “Then when I revealed to him that I was onto the scam, he hung up.”
Between the two calls she phoned her brother, Bobby Denton, who then called the real Matt to verify. And the real Matt was at work … and had not been involved in a rear-end wreck or any other kind.
Nelson told of a family friend whose parents were involved in a successful grandparent scam. They lost $3,000 to a con artist.
“That could have been my parents too, but I happened to be here getting my mother ready for a medical appointment,” she said. “If they had been here by themselves, they might have fallen for it. Hopefully, if just a few people read about our experience it might create some awareness and keep others from getting cheated out of their hard-earned savings.”