Scams often work because they target your emotions, and the so-called ‘grandson scam’ is especially effective because it targets a grandparent’s love for their grandchild.
There are a few variations on the scam, but the central theme is that the grandchild is in jail and needs immediate funds for release. Often, as recently occurred in Nanaimo, the grandparent is contacted by a “lawyer” who says the grandchild is incarcerated and immediate funds are required for his release. In Nanaimo, the grandchild was supposedly jailed in Peru. Several seniors fell victim to this scam in November; one senior reported losing almost $7000, another $3500 and just another lost $24,000. The request is that the money be sent through a wire transfer, which can be done at the post office.
Last Friday in Kimberley, a senior couple fell victim as well, but luckily only lost $1000. The senior contacted the Bulletin to get the word out but prefers her name not be used.
She is 78 years old and mad at herself for falling for it but says you get so upset at the time that you just want to help.
“We weren’t very proud of it. Usually we’re sharper than that.”
They were called at four p.m. Friday afternoon and told by a “lawyer” that there grandson was in a holding tank in Burnaby and would be held for the weekend on an impaired driving charge.
“They told us that he didn’t want to contact his parents because he didn’t want to upset them.”
She and her husband were actually suspicious but the timing made haste seem imperative.
“We asked for a cell phone number and his name, but it’s 4:30 on Friday, there’s nowhere to check. They even put my grandson on the line and I said, “it doesn’t sound like you”, and he said that he broke his nose when the airbag deployed.”
She had her grandson’s cell phone number and called it, but as luck would have it, it went to voice mail. Unfortunately, that helped convince them the story may be true.
“We thought they took his phone when they arrested him.”
The couple remained leery and although $2200 was asked for, only sent $1000.
Having realized later they were scammed, they regret it.
“We weren’t very happy about it, but luckily we are not in a position where $1000 means we don’t eat. But our heart was in the right place. When they hit you with your grandchild, you just want to help.”
Despite embarrassment over falling for it, the Kimberley senior wanted to tell her story so others wouldn’t become victims of the same scam.