SCAM WARNING: Tell your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa…

This isn’t a new type of scam but every so often it hits someone who falls for it. Barb says her mom knew it didn’t sound right and she just e-mailed us to share her story, to make sure you and your elders are aware of it:

Some guy who claimed to be a grandson just called my mom claiming he was in a car wreck, got a broken nose, had stitches in his leg, and was arrested on DUI charges in Vegas. He told her not to tell anyone, but he needed money to get out of jail.

My mom asked why he was in Las Vegas; he said he had been at a wedding. Thank God, my mom said this doesn’t sound like you, and asked, what is your mother’s name? The guy said his nose was broken in 2 places and that’s why he sounded different. The guy wanted her to call his lawyer (whose name is supposedly Harvey Gardner) and have $9800 to be sent to bail him out.

She said she didn’t have that kind of money. He told her to go to the bank and get it. He told her to “call the lawyer” in Las Vegas so he could get out of jail and gave her the phone number (514-015-5782) and maybe she could pay by credit card. When she asked again what his mother’s name was, he said, “I love you, grandma,” and said he had to get off the phone.

My mom called me, very upset, and wanted to know what she should do. Luckily I was able to reach my nephew (who the guy pretended to be). He was in Spokane, not Las Vegas, and he was not in any car accident. I’m grateful and proud my mom questioned the guy. I’m fairly sure they used information from Facebook targeting an elderly woman, hoping for an easy mark.

I called the Seattle Police but they said that since she didn’t give them any money, there was actually no crime.

This was a very scary call to receive. I want to spread word to stop these scammers. I just hope to prevent people from sending these types of people any money. I’m glad I had talked to my mom about various scams people use to get money and (had told her to) never give out any credit card information to anyone who calls her.

This scam is so common that even the FBI’s website has a warning about it, saying reports date back up to seven years; one version goes back even further, according to (And here’s a story from the East Coast about a scammer who got caught.)

18 Replies to "SCAM WARNING: Tell your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa..."

  • alki resident April 30, 2015 (5:48 am)

    Targeting the elderly makes me so sick. I wish we could protect all of them. Thank God this time she was questioning this douche. Im so sorry this happened. What makes me so angry is to read there is nothing that can be done, uhg.

  • Mike April 30, 2015 (5:58 am)

    “I called the Seattle Police but they said that since she didn’t give them any money, there was actually no crime”
    Uh oh SPD, I’d bet our State’s Attorney General will say differently. Rather than contacting SPD, go to the law enforcement that can take action on these events, it’s cross state fraud. FBI


    To not take action is to allow more people to be victimized. I applaud this lady for attempting to contact authorities about this. It’s pretty sad SPD did not follow protocol.

  • Sue April 30, 2015 (6:18 am)

    My stepmother in New York got a call like that a few years back – someone saying “hi grandma” and then launching into whatever the emergency story was that he needed money. She’s around 80 and started panicking, and fortunately my father overheard her side of the conversation, got suspicious and took the phone. He asked “his grandson” what his mother’s name was, and the scammer hung up the phone.

  • Mayu April 30, 2015 (7:08 am)

    This is pretty common scam going on for 15 yrs or so in Japan. It makes me so mad to hear those elderly and the kids (getting rubbed on the way school) are targeted.

  • Kim April 30, 2015 (8:11 am)

    Unfortunately my grandpa fell for this many years ago. He turned over nearly $6,000 of his hard earned, and scarce, cash. My mom finally got him to tell her why he had been acting so strange (he was so upset and was told he couldn’t tell anyone). My poor sweet grandpa was so relieved to hear my brother wasn’t actually in jail that he didn’t even care about the money.

  • miws April 30, 2015 (9:42 am)

    I wonder if besides occasional to frequent, depending on the particular Senior, reminding and discussing this with Senior family members, it might be a good idea for them to have a list of questions printed up, and maybe even laminated, and kept next to the phone for them to ask a caller if this scenario should occur.


    Anyone, even those with the highest mental faculties, can be caught off guard at a bad moment, and even more so with something that can be so emotional for them, such as a scenario that involves beloved family.



  • Neighbor April 30, 2015 (10:38 am)

    This just happened in our family to the tune of over $100,000. The new twist is that they are monitoring people who have just acquired high ticket items. They monitored the phone and the social media accounts. They may have used voice recognition software. They knew so much about one family member that it really convinced the individuals to send years of income that a retired couple will never recoupe.
    We never thought to have the conversation with them because they are still young, but the extortionists were absolute pros and very high tech.
    To say this has been heartbreaking is such an understatement.
    The saddest part has been the loss of faith in the world their grandchildren will inherit.
    Have a family password at the very least.

  • carol April 30, 2015 (11:40 am)

    Commenter Mike (miws) is right on. It’s not just the elderly; it’s any of us in emotional situations. I got scammed to the tune of 800 dollars on a phone call. These folks are real pros, they have ways to combat every objection, question. I hope I have learned my lesson (but am scared that I haven’t). Having a set of standard questions to ask on calls “out of the blue” sounds helpful. What would be on that list?
    I am thinking that the best approach is to 1) get the person’s name and 2) organization. Then search online for a phone number for the organization and call it. Don’t get the phone number from the caller.

  • Admiral mom April 30, 2015 (11:55 am)

    My aunt just had this happen to her and unfortunately she hadn’t heard of this scam and fell for it, hard wiring over $2,500. Watch out everyone!

  • Kari April 30, 2015 (12:33 pm)

    While we’re warning people about scams, make sure your family and friends, especially elders, also know that if someone calls them claiming to be Microsoft about a computer virus, it’s a scam. Microsoft never calls customers.

  • Jason April 30, 2015 (12:51 pm)

    Unfortunately this scam is all too common. And people are right that the cons are pretty sophisticated and we all need to be on the lookout. Anyone can get taken.

    Check out this AARP video to hear directly from a con-artist on how he was able to pull it off.

    This comes from the AARP Fraud Watch Network where people can sign up to receive scam alerts from AARP and the State Attorney General’s Office (

  • Westsidegirl April 30, 2015 (1:19 pm)

    I work at a bank and this exact scam happened to my customer almost 4 months. The script is exactly the same but thank goodness we warned her

  • Brian April 30, 2015 (3:08 pm)

    If my mom was called she’d respond well you can just sit in jail and think about what you did I’m not going to bail you out.

  • Jason April 30, 2015 (3:34 pm)

    That’s so great Westsidegirl that your bank is stepping in to warn consumers. So are some of the wire outfits like Western Union.
    But unfortunately many of the con-artists have found a way to work around that by having victims purchase Green Dot or pre-paid money cards (available at any grocery or drug store). They then have victims give them the number off the card and empty the balance.
    Another good resource AARP has to offer is the AARP Fraud Fighter Call Center. We have trained volunteer Fraud Fighters available in Seattle at 1-800-646-2283 to talk to people one-on-one. They can help victims after they have been scammed, or better yet, talk to people before they get taken. People can call our Center to check out if a call they have received or a “deal” they have been presented with is actually legit or possibly a scam.
    Jason, AARP Washington

  • Angel McClellan April 30, 2015 (11:13 pm)

    I have blocked my accounts and I don’t always update like a lot of people. Scams happen through messenger someone sends a message all you have too do is answer and they get info hack and make the calls. Lucky for me I watch the news and didn’t fall for the IRS scam, and I made a police report for every call.

  • Maria CPT May 1, 2015 (2:55 pm)

    this happened to my parents a few years ago. The caller claimed to be their grandson and was in trouble and needed money. He made the mistake of calling my dad “Grandpa”. My dad doesn’t go by Grandpa to his grandkids.

  • andover May 1, 2015 (2:56 pm)

    Similar scam artists targeted my in-laws, who live in the Midwest, last week. Thankfully they didn’t fall for it, but I was disturbed by the fact the scammer actually used the name of one of their adult grandsons. The script was similar with him being out of state for a wedding and getting in a car accident. The scammer got off the phone when my mother-in-law repeatedly asked him the name of his brother. At first the scammer said he was confused after the car accident, but eventually just hung up when they kept insisting he tell them his brother’s name.

  • Lars May 1, 2015 (3:50 pm)

    Yeah, I’m sure the FBI will be all over this ONE case…

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