Dominican grandparent scam steals US$ 8400 from U.S. Woman
FLORIDA - Claudia Beach, 79, said it started with a phone call from someone who claims to be a relative.

 

"He called me grandma; he said, 'Grandma, can you keep a secret?'" said Beach.

It was the first step in an $8400 ripoff. 

It worked like this:

Caller: Grandma I don't sound like myself. I have been in an accident. I have stitches in my lips.

Beach: Where are you? Are you okay?

Caller: I have been in an accident and am being held in jail in the Dominican Republic.

"My emotions went wild. I couldn't think. All I could think was he was in jail in a foreign country," said Beach.

The caller told her he needed $3400 to get out of jail. Beach said she did not hesitate. She went to the bank and then went to a nearby Publix to wire the money by Western Union.

But looking back that was just the beginning of the scheme.

"The next day I get a call: 'Grandma, I need $2400. They're making me pay my medical expenses,'" said Beach.

She wired the $2400, but it was not over, the caller knew he had hit the jackpot.

"Later that afternoon he called again: 'Grandma, I need $1800 because I've got to pay the other medical expenses for the lady I had hit,'" said Beach.

ON YOUR SIDE

Beach wired the $1800. She said each time the employees at the Western Union counter asked her if she was sure it was her grandson but she said she was convinced it was him.

"I would not listen. In fact, I became indignant. I knew who I talked to," she added.

Beach wired the money to a so-called lawyer using the name Angel Rosario.

Beach knows that she has lost her money but wants to share her story to hopefully keep someone else from falling victim to the grandparent scam.

"It is heart-breaking and the money is gone and I'm not going to get it back, but I hope it would not happen to another person," said Beach.

She has filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Jacksonville Beach Police.

"It is one of those things you don't think will happen to you," she added.

But it does and the target is well-meaning senior citizens who think they are helping a grandchild in distress.

It preys on their love for their grandchildren.  

This scam is easy to avoid. The caller usually claims to be in an accident, or in jail or needs to pay for repairs.

To protect yourself:

Do not disclose any information before you have confirmed it really is your grandchild.

If you're not sure ask the caller for their middle name or school they attended.

Do not respond with a name but instead let the caller explain who he or she is.

If you become a victim to the scam report it to the police,the Attorneys General, the www.ftc. gov and PhoneBusters at www.phonebusters.com or 1-888-495-8501      .

 

Click here to watch video with Claudia Beach

Dominican Watchdog Note: The truly sad thing is that the Dominican Police is doing nothing to find these scammers. There has now been hundreds of such scams from the DR against elderly people in the U.S. and Western Union needs to change their local policy for paying out money. An easy thing would be to take a picture of the person who come to WU and claim the funds!

Go back | Date: 14 Sep 2011
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