Regarding the June 7 Point of View by Lacy Walthall concerning the grandparent scam: I wish my 89-year-old mother had been so lucky to get her money back. While she was living in Florida, she received a call, and the caller said: “Grandma?” (Red flag #1: All her grandkids call her Maw-Maw). She thought it sounded like one of her 12 grandkids, and she said, “Joseph?” That’s all it took for the hook to be set.
Much like Walthall’s case, the caller said he had been in an accident and was in jail and needed money right away and not to tell his mother. He said the money needed to be wired to Madrid, Spain, because that’s where the lawyers were handling it from. Seriously? Spain? He asked for $2,500. Told her to go to the bank and withdraw that and go to a Western Union. She dutifully did so. He pressured her to go immediately and not make any calls or tell anyone. This is a college-educated woman who has questioned things all her life and raised four children and ministered along side her pastor/husband.
After she wired the money and went home, more calls came! The same caller said he needed more money to clear the charges and send another $2,500 to some other foreign location. He continued the high pressure on her. Before she could gather her purse and keys a second time, he called to ask if she had left yet. The pressure is to keep them confused and rushed so they don’t think. All the time, she didn’t feel like she could call her daughter (the real Joseph’s mother) and ask her whether there was trouble.
Here’s where there could have been help for an elderly, confused person. The bank teller should have questioned her when she went to withdraw $2,500 a second time and said, “Mrs. X, this doesn’t seem typical for your transactions. Is everything all right?” She lived in a very small town. She wired the second check. So, this wonderful grandmother who scrimped and saved all her life to have money that she deserved was robbed of $5,000 in a couple of hours over the phone! By the time she checked in with her daughter that afternoon and then called the Florida Attorney General’s office, it was too late. The money had been received, and there was no trail.
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Yes, this happens every day all over the country. Boomers need to tell their elderly parents not to fall for this. If they do get a call from someone pretending to be a grandchild, tell them to ask the caller certain questions that only the real person would know.
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the issue.