Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

January 26, 2013

Scams against elderly among the worst

Deanna Kirk
Corsicana Daily Sun

— Bullying comes in many forms, but I believe scams on the elderly are among the worst.

A very nice lady appeared at our front counter on Friday, and shared with me an experience that happened to her this week.

On Wednesday morning, her home phone rang and a man identifying himself as her grandson (with a sore throat, so he didn’t sound like himself) informed her that he was in Brazil, had wrecked and hit a telephone pole, and was being held in custody until he could come up with $3,000 for damages.

Since her grandson resides in Louisiana, she was not certain of his exact whereabouts at that particular time. In doubt, she continued to listen to the caller. Earlene also has three grandsons, and since he didn’t specify a name, she still had doubts.

She was instructed to wire transfer $2,900 plus to a specific place, with a little more for the Western Union charge.

Then, a second man with a louder voice came on the line, and stated he was from “the American Embassy,” and that her grandson couldn’t speak with her any more, as he’d been taken back to his cell. When she insisted she’d need to speak to her grandson again before wiring any funds, the line went dead.

The man also insisted several times the call was not a scam, when she suggested it might be. He also employed fear tactics and veiled threats from “the Brazilian government” toward her grandson if she didn’t comply.

While this was going on, Earlene’s husband got on a different phone and called their son in Louisiana, who informed them their grandson was not in Brazil, but was in fact at that moment eating breakfast with his boss before going out on a job site in Louisiana.

“It scared me,” she admitted. “I talked to a lady at the beauty shop later who had received a similar call, but they said her grandson was in Mexico, and he didn’t sound like ‘himself’ because he’d bit his tongue. She called their bluff and the caller hung up.”

But what really concerned Earlene enough to come by the Daily Sun office was hearing from someone close to her employed at the beauty shop that an 85-year-old lady (or thereabouts) received a similar call — and went to the bank to withdraw the money. Her “grandson” had requested a $2,000 “loan,” and her bank officer, concerned about the legitimacy of the request, phoned her daughter. The daughter had her son (the woman’s grandson) call to say it was most assuredly NOT him who had called her to request money.

If you or someone you know has received a call like this, do not fall victim to this scam. Call the non-emergency number at Corsicana Police Department and file a report. Earlene said her son had looked online at “American Embassy grandparent scams” and found pretty much chapter and verse the scenario that played out with her.

“That’s low-down and sorry to do grandparents that way,” she said.

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On a more positive note, I’d like to express a very heart felt Happy 91st Birthday to my friend Mary Love Sanders tomorrow! Still beautiful, inside and out!!

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Deanna Kirk is a Daily Sun staff writer and editor of Explore magazine. Her column appears on Saturdays. She may be reached by email at dkirk@corsicanadailysun.com. If you’d like to sound off on this column, email soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com.