Grandma Help Me!

Hi Leslie,

I've enjoyed your presentations and want to share this experience.

Last month my 80-yr old mother took $900 to a Western Union in Maryland and wired it to a women in Peru. My "son" had called her from "jail" in Florida, where he lives, and needed the bail money. His "attorney" got on the phone and said that my son did not want his parents to know, but trusted her to help him. My mom is a Wellesley graduate, retired business owner, and not suffering from any impairment of her reasoning. Luckily my son called me after she called him, and I got her to cancel the wire transfer and then took her to the Western Union office to get her money back. She filed a police report but I'm sure nothing will come of it. The phone number was a cell number from Montreal (probably pre-paid). My mom said she asked a lot of questions of the "attorney" and really thought it had been my son on the phone.

I showed her this article which made her feel better

I'd like more people to be aware of this scam. The grandmas in the article had the same experience, were not dummies, but two of them really thought their grandsons had called them in an emergency, and one of them did not get her money back.

My question is why Western Union does not take more care in processing these. They could let their offices know that if an 80-yr old women comes in with $900 in cash to wire to South America or Canada maybe they should ask if it's for a relative in distress, and have they checked with anyone in their family to verify it. Or, as they are a for-profit corporation, they make money on the fees and if you're scammed it's your problem. The scammers are making money for them as well. I never knew that you could wire money to Delores DeScammer in Peru and she could show up at any Western Union office in that country with a fake ID and walk away with untraceable cash. The "attorney" said they could not accept a credit card, only debit or a money transfer.

This hit home just how good these con artists are.