Editorial - Beware of phony plea for moneyAn Alexandria woman answered a phone call last week and the conversation went something like this: “Hello, Grandma – this is your grandson.” “Nicholas, is that you? You sound a little funny.” “Yeah, I’ve been a little sick lately, getting over a sore throat. But, Grandma, something terrible has happened and I didn’t know who else to call.”
An Alexandria woman answered a phone call last week and the conversation went something like this:
“Hello, Grandma – this is your grandson.”
“Nicholas, is that you? You sound a little funny.”
“Yeah, I’ve been a little sick lately, getting over a sore throat. But, Grandma, something terrible has happened and I didn’t know who else to call.”
“What is it, Nicholas? What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know if I told you but I’ve been on vacation and was traveling through Niagara Falls when I got into a car accident. I’m OK, but please don’t tell anyone – I was arrested for DUI. And I’m ashamed to say, I need your help.
“Oh, Nicholas, well at least you’re OK! What do you need?”
“I need some money to post bail, Grandma. I don’t know who else to ask, who I could turn to for help. And please, don’t tell anybody. I don’t want anyone to know. This is very embarrassing and I feel stupid about the whole thing.”
“Well, how much do you need?”
“The police say they could let me out of jail for $4,900. I know that’s a lot of money but I could pay you back. If you just get the money to me today…”
By now, the grandma was starting to get a little suspicious. She wanted desperately to help her grandson but the money angle seemed fishy.
After expressing some hesitation, her grandson told her that she could talk to the police officer, who was right there. A very official sounding voice assured her that her grandson, Nicholas, had indeed been arrested for drunk driving in Niagara Falls and was in police custody. He gave a different bail amount, however – $2,900.
The dollar amounts weren’t the only things that weren’t adding up. She thought about her grandson’s different sounding voice, the immediacy of getting the money, the secrecy.
After ending the call without parting with any money, the grandma decided to phone Nicholas at his place of work just to be sure.
Nicholas, of course, was there. He wasn’t on vacation and he was nowhere near Niagara Falls.
The Alexandria woman had just narrowly avoided getting scammed.
“I was almost taken by it,” she told the newspaper in hopes of warning others about this type of scam. “They were pretty convincing.”
Instead of sending money, she rightly reported the incident to local law enforcement officials, who have heard of this kind of scam before. Their advice has always been: Don’t send money or give out financial information over the phone unless you are 100 percent certain that the person on the other end of the line is legitimate.
Scam artists will sink to any level to try and make a buck – even more so in today’s troubled economy. They’ll even resort to calling up random phone numbers, searching for a kindly grandmother’s voice.
Don’t let them get away with it. Remember this Alexandria woman’s story. Tell it to your own grandparents. Warn them not to believe everything they hear over the phone, especially if something doesn’t ring true.