Middle Tennessee grandmother nearly loses thousands in emotional phone scam

WHITE HOUSE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A grandmother in White House nearly lost thousands of dollars after scammers preyed on her love for her grandchildren.

It’s a rising trend, and the calls are collecting. Scams frequently target senior’s wallets, their life savings, and in Catherine Lee’s case, her compassion.

“This phone number came up. He said I have a boy here that wants to speak to you. He’s in trouble. It sounded just like my grandson, and he was crying,” she explained. “He said I was driving and drinking last night, and I hit a telephone pole. Tore up my car, tore a ladies car up. I said are you okay? He said yes I’m okay, but I’m in jail.”

Her grandson Nolan allegedly needed help, and he needed it fast.

“I got on the phone with this lawyer, supposed lawyer. He said go to the bank, pull out $4,000 for gift cards,” said Lee. “Go to Walmart, and tell them what you want.”

Fresh from the bank, money in her hand, Lee stopped by Walmart. She told News 2 she was stopped at the register.

“I get these people gathered around me. They said it’s a scam,” said Lee. “We can’t let you have it, and I said well it was for my grandson, and they said I’m sorry, and see that’s when I cried.”

Walmart officials say due to provisions in the Patriot Act, at purchases of $5,000 worth of gift cards, they request your license. If the gift card purchase is more than $10,000, the sale is terminated.

Their employees, though, are ever vigilant, keeping an eye out for scams that fall below the threshold, such as in Lee’s case.

Turns out, grandson Nolan was safe and sound in Knoxville.

“Nolan was in Knoxville with his girlfriend,” added Lee. “I don’t know what I was thinking. My mind was just like that. It was so scary”

And Lee is far from alone. The National Council on Aging ranks the ‘Grandparent Scam’ 10th on their senior scam list, just behind fake lotto calls.

Lee urges all to pay attention, and should they be wary, simply don’t pick up the phone.

“Don’t answer a strange phone number, unless you know for sure who it is,” said Lee. “They’re low down scum. That’s all I know to say. They’re just about as low as you can go.”

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