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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.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright 2012 © Joan Y. Edwards