Missouri Grandmother's Curiosity Squashes Scam

(AP) Delpha Speak has 13 grandchildren and she didn't think it was completely implausible that one of her grandsons-in-law would call her to say he was in trouble. The 72-year-old retiree could tell something was wrong, and she wanted to do whatever she could to help.

But it was that concern that almost caught her up in what the state attorney general's office said is a common scam targeting older folks.

"He said, `Grandma,' and I said, `Which grandson?" Speak said. "He said, `Guess,' and I said, `Oh, it's Jamie,' and he said, `Yeah, it's Jamie.'"

She said her grandson-in-law lives in Kansas City and frequently travels for business, so when he said he was in Niagra Falls, Ontario, Canada, she believed him.

"He said, `Grandma, I'm really in trouble,'" she said. "He said, `I've had a car wreck and I have to have $5,000 to get out of the police station.'"

The caller urged her to wire the money via MoneyGram at Wal-Mart and begged her not to call her granddaughter.

"By now he was crying almost," Speak said. "He said, `Don't tell anyone, because I didn't tell anyone I was coming here.'"

After she hung up, she told her husband about the call and he headed to the bank to get the money. Then her curiosity got the best of her and she called the police station.

"As soon as I said do you have Jamie, my grandson, there, they said, `Ma'am, it's a scam,'" she said. "They're calling people from out of the country, and it's always grandparents."

A spokesman for Attorney General Jay Nixon said the scammer's line is a familiar one.

"That's the classic grandparents' scam," said Nixon spokesman Travis Ford. "The scammer doesn't know the grandchild's name, so they call and say grandma and hope the grandparent gives them the name of the person they're impersonating."

Ford said there has been one other documented case of the scam this year, when a central Missouri man was nearly bilked out of $8,000.

"Our advice is for grandparents to stop and collect their thoughts for a minute, and then do whatever they can to verify the location of their grandchildren."

Speak got in touch with her daughter later Thursday, and she confirmed that her grandson-in-law was at home in Kansas City.

"I felt so dumb," she said. "I just never thought it would happen to us."

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Information from: The Joplin Globe, http://www.joplinglobe.com

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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