ONEIDA (WATE) – It’s an all too familiar scam. Someone calls a grandmother claiming to be a grandchild in trouble and asks to have money wired.
A Scott County woman who had not heard of the scam before called 6 On Your Side saying she wants others to learn from her mistake.
Sharing information on social networking sites is transforming the way we keep up with our family and friends, but they aren’t the only ones who read the information and see the pictures. Scam artists do, too.
While Donna Thompson’s grandkids are grown now, she keeps in touch with them. Like most grandmothers, she’d do anything to help anyone of them, if they had a problem.
She received an emergency phone call, supposedly from her grandson Cody recently.
“My grandson called and he said, ‘Will you not tell Mom and Dad,'” she said.
She promised and said “Cody” sounded upset, claiming he was in trouble.
“‘They want $2,000 to get me out, but you can’t tell nobody,'” she said.
She says then a man by the name of Justin got on the phone, claiming he was a police officer and that Cody’s bail was set at $2,000.
Justin directed her to purchase MoneyPak cards; he doesn’t want payment with a credit card.
“He tells me to call him back when I get the Moneypaks,” Thompson said.
Once she bought the cards, she was then given directions what to do with them.
“To scrape the numbers off the cards and he will call me back and get the numbers off the cards,” she said.
Once she did that, the money was gone.
“He called me back while on I was on the road and he said, ‘Are you getting the money.?’ I said, ‘Yes,’ but I said, ‘I’ve got to go to LaFollette to the bank to get the money.’ And it still didn’t dawn on me, I was so upset. I still thought i was talking to my grandson. I never thought of calling my grandson to see if he was home,” Thompson said. “He would have been at home.”
Federal agencies that have investigated the grandparent hoax say the callers are very smooth, but you can trip them up. Do what ever is necessary to confirm your real grandchild’s whereabouts. Call them or call their parents.
If the caller asks you to buy MoneyPak cards or to wire money, it’s a scam.
If the caller says to please don’t tell anyone about the arrest or amount of money they need to get out of jail, it a hoax.
Last October we reported how Jody and her daughter Michelle kept a secret for weeks, but then Jody wanted everyone to know how she lost $10,000 when she got a call believing it was her grandson in Texas.
“They said that my grandson had had a wreck in a rental car,” Jody told 6 On Your Side.
She was told he hit a telephone pole and had to pay thousands of dollars for the damage. Convinced it was true, Jody wired the money.
“When your grandson is involved, you will spend your last dollar,” said Jody.
“I really did believe it was my grandson,” said Thompson.
Two loving grandmothers who learned a lesson the hard way and have similar messages they want to pass on.
“Be very careful. No matter what they tell you, tell somebody. Above all tell somebody,” said Jody.
“If they say go get a MoneyPak and give them the numbers, then you are being scammed,” said Thompson.
Sometimes the person claiming to be the grandchild may not say his or her name, but if they sound desperate enough and ask: “You know who this is Grandma,” a concerned nana may blurt out the name of her favorite grandchild. After that, the con game is on.
Should you receive one of these calls, the important thing is to realize this scam is taking place and be sure to call the child’s parents to verify his or her whereabouts.
Don’t send money!