'I was just panicking': Seemingly urgent emergency scam steals $2,000 from NC grandpa

Diane Wilson Image
Friday, September 10, 2021
NC grandpa tricked into sending money to fake grandson
It's a scam that's been around but is making a comeback. It's known as the Grandparents Scam, and it typically starts with a frantic phone call.

It's a scam that's been around but is making a comeback. It's known as the Grandparents Scam, and it typically starts with a frantic phone call.

"He said, 'It's your grandson, pop.' And the fact that he said pop is what my grandson was always calling me, so I knew I was talking to my grandson," said Mickey who asked ABC11 not to use his last name.

The unexpected call caught Mickey off guard.

"I could tell he was upset and I said, 'What's the matter?' And he told me he got a DUI. He was in a terrible wreck, and he's hurt, and he's in jail and he needs to get out of jail so he can go to an infirmary. I felt so bad I didn't know what to do, and I was just panicking," Mickey recalled.

Mickey said "his grandson" then had him talk to his attorney who told Mickey he needed to fork over money right away if he was going to help.

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The man claiming to be Mickey's grandson asked for a large sum of money--too much for Mickey to even get his hands on. That's when the scammer lowered the amount to $2,000, a number Mickey could handle.

"If that's what it takes, you know? If we can get him out of there and in the hospital, yeah, I'll see what I can do," Mickey said.

The attorney made it appear getting the money was urgent. Mickey said the attorney told him, "(Your grandson) won't be charged with anything if we can get that money to the clerk of court today for his bail."

Mickey went to his bank, got the $2,000, and followed the instructions which were to wrap the cash up and send it overnight.

"I sent him the money; I sent him $2,000 in $100 bills," Mickey said admitting he didn't think twice about sending the money. "My grandson is my only grandchild, so I'll take care of him in a heartbeat. If he was in trouble, there wouldn't be any questions asked."

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The DoorDash driver thought he was protecting his account, but it turns out he was forking over his hard-earned cash.

After sending the money, Mickey started thinking about what he just did, and said he called his grandson's mom and it was then she confirmed her son, Mickey's grandson was not hurt, nor in trouble with the law, he was totally fine.

"I immediately call the company back that had the money and I told them to cancel that shipment overnight, and they told me they will take care of it. The next morning, the company called me back (and said) they weren't able to stop it," Mickey said.

That's when it set in that his $2,000 was gone, and he had been scammed.

"I don't believe I did that, but I did. It was so convincing, so convincing. I've never been through that before so now that I've been educated, that won't happen again," Mickey said.

The Grandparents Scam which is also known as the Emergency Scam typically targets senior citizens and tricks them into thinking a loved one is hurt and needs money.

"Typically you receive a phone call from someone that claims to be a grandchild saying they're traveling overseas, they've been injured, they're in the hospital, they've been arrested, some type of emergency," Mallory Wojciechowski with the BBB of Eastern North Carolina said. "They're looking for you to send money, and typically they'll ask you to wire money. If you're ever asked to wire money that is a huge red flag."

Wojciechowski said social media plays a big role in this scam.

"Be careful posting personal information if you are traveling, as scam artists will use that against us. You may actually be traveling and they will call a close friend or relative to tell them you're in trouble and need money," she explained.

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"I thought I was on Amazon.com. I was not on Amazon.com. I was on their website they created that looks like Amazon."

The best advice, anytime you get a call, no matter how emotional or threatening it sounds, step back and think and call a family member to see if they're actually in trouble. If they ever ask for money, especially for you to wire it, buy gift cards, or send cash -- all of those things are big red flags.