Some loathsome individual attempted to scam the father of a friend of mine yesterday. Since this happened in Amarillo, I thought it would be good to get the word out as a warning to anyone else whose parents or grandparents might be susceptible to this sort of thing. I’ve changed a few details (names, mainly) so as to protect identities. Here’s the story:
My friend, John, received a call from his 90-year-old father, Joe.
“How do I wire money out of my bank account?” asked Joe.
“You don’t.” replied John. “…but tell me why you need to wire money.”
Joe: “I just received a call from my grand nephew Tommy’s attorney. He said that Tommy, while on vacation in Denver, accidentally hit a pedestrian. He can avoid a lawsuit, but he will needs to settle with the pedestrian for $4,000. Tommy told his attorney to call me because he really didn’t want his father to know about this problem or be involved with it. The attorney also informed me that there is a strict confidentiality agreement in place as a result of the settlement; so, I’m not supposed to talk to anyone about this. I’m really not supposed to be talking to you, but I don’t know how to wire money.”
John explained to his father that this was likely a scam. He then texted Tommy to confirm—just in case. Yep, this was a scam. As John tried to get more information from his father, he learned that the “attorney” had strongly implied that Joe would cause a lot more problem for Tommy if he violated the judge-ordered confidentiality agreement.
I’m posting this because I had not heard of this particular con before. I had, of course, heard horror stories of non-tech-savvy grandparents being scammed on social media. What I had not thought of is this situation: while your parents or grandparents may not be on social media, they have grand kids (or nephews, nieces, etc.) who are. If a young relative posts about their grandparent on social media (as they often do), a con artist then has access to the name of the grandparent along with a treasure trove of information about his or her relative. The con artist can then use this information to create a fairly elaborate scam. In my friend’s case, the scammer knew details about the grand nephew that were likely obtained from his social media feeds.
If you know of someone who may be susceptible to this sort of thing, please warn them to be ultra-cautious about sending money to anyone. Also, tell them to be very wary of any threat pertaining to breaking a “confidentiality agreement” that is supposedly related to sending money. It’s heartbreaking that people would do something like this to our elderly. Alas, it’s happening—right here in Amarillo.