A Lower Saucon Township man is asking residents to remind their elderly parents, neighbors and friends not to send money to someone claiming to be a relative in trouble without checking with that person or another relative first, after a scammer who targeted his 88-year-old mother was able to swindle her out of nearly $10,000.
According to the woman’s son, she received a phone call Monday from a man claiming to be her grandson. In fact, because of how it works this scam is commonly known as the “Grandparent Scam.” A 2017 AARP article describes it, and how scammers use the unconditional love a grandparent has for their grandchild to deceive and manipulate them.
“She didn’t think it sounded like him, but mentioned him by name, and the person used that to convince her it was him,” the woman’s son said.
The caller–impersonating the woman’s grandson–then told her a fictitious story about being in Massachusetts for a wedding, getting in an accident, being put in jail and needing money to pay medical bills for the person he hit.
He also told the woman she couldn’t tell anyone about what happened and needed to send $9,800 cash by UPS next day air to an address in Florida.
“Unbelievable as it sounds, she complied,” the man said, adding that his mother went and withdrew the cash from a Hellertown bank.
The same person called back Tuesday–after the delivery was made–and wanted another $13,000, which was when the woman told her family about it.
“There were so many red flags,” the woman’s son said, adding that the Lower Saucon Township Police Department took a report of the theft, in spite of the fact that recovering any of the stolen funds appears unlikely.
He said they were able to track the delivered package to a vacant house for sale in Florida, where they alerted the local police about it, “but there’s nothing they can do.”