Scam Alert! Stealing from Gramma Ursula

Here's the Characters in this Sordid Tale

Gramma Ursula, victim
Gramma Ursula, victim
Scammer Bruce. Fake Nathan
Scammer Bruce. Fake Nathan
Real Grandson Nathan
Real Grandson Nathan

There’s a scam going around targeting retirees. For the purposes of this writing, the scammer will be known as Bruce and the Mark we’ll call Grandma Ursula. The scam plays out like this:

Bruce: picks up phone and dials Grandma Ursula (only, as you may have guessed, she is not his actual grandmother.)

Grandma Ursula: answers. “Hello?”

B: Grandma! Thank God I reached you. This is Nathan.

GU: Nathan. How’re you? Are you just checking in on your poor old grandma?

B: Oh. I wish this was a social call, but, well, I’ll be blunt. I’m in a pickle.

GU: Oh dear. What have you done this time?

B: (laughs) Oh, I haven’t done anything. But, I need your help. I’m stranded in Spain. I got robbed and I lost all my money and luggage. I need you to wire some money to the Spanish Embassy so they can wire me the money and I can get home. It’ll probably be a couple of thousand dollars.

GU: Spain? When did you go to Spain…. Your mother didn’t say anything.

B: Oh, I went here for school.

GU: Come to think of it, you don’t sound a lot like Nathan.

B: That’s ‘cause it’s a bad connection. Of course I’m Nathan. Who else would it be? I’m Nathan. I’m 23. I was born on November 17th, 1988. I have your blue eyes, gramma. I’m majoring in anthropology. I spent last Fourth of July with you at your beach house. I’m the youngest of your grandkids. Most importantly, I’m stuck in Spain and need your help.

GU: This doesn’t sound right. I’m gonna need to think about it. Call me back later. (Before Bruce can object, gramma hangs up the phone. She’s crying because she’s confused and scared. She calls Nathan, who doesn’t answer, only adding to her panic. She leaves him a message and then calls Nathan’s mother, but she’s at work, so this is an equally futile venture. Ditto Nathan’s dad. Ditto the result. Finally, she calls the police and tells them what happened. She’s not sure any crime has been committed but she’s hopeful the police might have some insight into this situation.)

B: (Meanwhile, he dials the next number on his list. He has about twenty folks to call today and he’s expecting one to bite. Any more than one would be gravy. He’s not lazy or evil. He’s a victim of the recession. He’s an out of work father of three and he needs to feed his family. He doesn’t feel good about his current line of work, but he also doesn’t feel good getting evicted from his apartment or watching his kids get sick and complain of hunger. With a sigh, he calls the next name on his list.)

Meanwhile, back at gramma’s house….

Gramma Ursula is by informed by Officer Columbo that there is a scam going around targeting the elderly. The story told to the victims is the exact story that was given to poor Gramma Ursula.

“But the caller had so much information to identify himself as Nathan,” Gramma Ursula tearfully protested.

“Yes. He likely got that information from Twitter, Myspace and Facebook. That’s what makes the story convincing,” Officer Columbo responds, a little absent mindedly.

The phone rings. Is it Nathan? Is it the scammer? Columbo nods, telling her it’s okay to pick up.

Nathan: Gramma, what’s wrong?

GU: Are you in Spain?

N: Spain? Why would I be in Spain?

GU then recounts the story of what happened.

N: Did you send the money?

GU: No. I told him to call me back.

N: Why on earth did you do that, Gramma?

GU: Well, if it was really you, I didn’t want you to be stranded in Spain.

Nathan and Gramma talk a few more minutes and when they hang up, Nathan assures Gramma that he’s not in Spain. She believes him and starts to cry.

The phone rings again.

GU: Hello?

B: Gramma. Why haven’t you sent the money? I need to get home.

Gramma hangs up and Bruce knows Gramma Ursula is wise to his deception. But, he’s not that concerned. He has Eileen on the hook. Her grandson son, Lionel, is stranded in Mozambique. Bruce sighs and shallowly and picks up the phone.

Source

Don't Be a Victim

While the preceding is a fictional account, the scam is real. Protect yourself from it. Don’t send money to people over the phone without verifying who they are. If someone calls you claiming to be someone you know and wants you to send them money, hang up and call them at a number you know belongs to them. If you can’t reach them, keep calling someone who can verify their story.. If the story sounds suspicious or weird to you, there’s probably a good reason. Go with your gut. Most likely, if someone is requesting money sent to a foreign country, they’re trying to rip you off.

Also, limit who can see your private info on your social media. You don’t need to be paranoid, but be very selective about who you allow to be your friend and who you allow to see your personal information.

You should be especially cautious with folks claiming to be from a collection agency. Collection agencies won’t send you a bill more than one time and, since the envelope it comes in looks like junk mail, most of us throw it out. If they call you and ask you to “settle this debt” over the phone and you don’t remember owing money to the client in question, don’t do it. Insist on a bill being sent. If they refuse to send a bill (which they will nine times out of ten. It’s apparently too expensive to send a 42 cent bill, even though the sum they’re collecting is much higher then that.), tell them you refuse to pay without one you will only communicate with them via postal mail (this is your right). Even if it’s a legitimate debt, it’s not worth giving out your personal information (By the Way, they can easily get your name, address and phone number by doing a google search. This in no way proves they are legitimate. And, for the love of God, don’t give them your Social Security Number. Not only does this allow them to ding your credit, it allows them access to your identity) over the phone. Wait for the bill that won’t come and then do a Better Business Bureau search on the company.

It’s sad that there are people out there who want to steal from hard working people, and especially the elderly, but, with the state of the world economy, these kinds of scams are becoming more prevalent. Don’t be a victim!

My poetry collection

A FREELANCE WRITER, HONORS STUDENT AND GOVER PRIZE FINALIST, JUSTIN W. PRICE (AKA, PDXKARAOKEGUY)IS A POET, SHORT STORY, BIOGRAPHY AND HUMOR WRITER. HIS POETRY COLLECTION, DIGGING TO CHINA, WAS RELEASED FEBRUARY 2ND, 2013 BY SWEATSHOPPE PUBLICATIONS AND IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM, BARNES AND NOBLE AND THROUGH YOUR LOCAL BOOKSELLER.

HIS WORK WILL ALSO BE FEATURED IN BEST NEW FICTION (2014 EDITION), AND HAS APPEARED PREVIOUSLY IN THE RUSTY NAIL, EFICTION, THE CRISIS CHRONICLES, THE HELLROARING REVIEW, BURNINGWORD, THE WHISTLING FIRE, SEE SPOT RUN ANDTHE BELLWETHER REVIEW.

HE WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER, EDITOR, AND GHOST WRITER, AND IS WORKING TOWARDS HIS PH.D. HE LIVES IN A SUBURB OF PORTLAND, OREGON WITH HIS WIFE, ANDREA, THEIR LABRADOODLE, BELLA, SCHNOODLE, SAUVEE AND BLACK MOOR GOLDFISH, HOWARD WOLOWITZ.

PLEASE VISIT HIS PROFILE PAGE FOR MORE INFORMATION. THANKS!

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Comments 59 comments

PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you, vns. You are correct. I myself have fallen for a scam or two in my day


vnsatakopan profile image

vnsatakopan 4 years ago from Chennai, India

Even the not so old people can fall victims to scams. As long as people are gullible, these things would continue to happen.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Dawn... that is horrible and it sounds like a variation of this same scam. it's sad that people think this is okay...

Thanks for reading and commenting!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks for reading, Hecate. and you're welcome. please pass this on to anyone that may be helped by it :-)


Dawn Conklin profile image

Dawn Conklin 4 years ago from New Jersey, USA

It is so sad how people are doing this kind of stuff. There was also a scam that the caller was claiming to be a son or grandson that was in jail and needed the money. It is horrible, no matter how bad these people are hurting for money it is a horrible thing to do.


hecate-horus profile image

hecate-horus 4 years ago from Rowland Woods

This a really bad scam going around via phone and email. Thank you for alerting people to this hoax! voted up!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

you're welcome, Lady_E. This is a fictional tale though this scam was attempted with my grandmother.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 4 years ago from London, UK

Aaawh thanks for raising awareness. The cheek of him, saying it was a "bad connection."

Great Hub.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

well, good con men help give you confidence. That's why they're called confidence men, I think :-) Thanks for sharing!


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

I've gotten several of the scam emails such as Homesteadbound mentioned. I always understood they were con artists, but it scares me to think of the people who fall for those traps as well as many others. I hope everyone here who has vulnerable relatives will save this and show it to them. Excellent hub - voted up, useful and interesting.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Audrey. AS GI Joe used to say, "Knowing is half the battle"


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Dim. That seemed like the best way to talk about the subject without making it too heavy> Thanks for reading! Sad days indeed


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

I hate when I see this happen! I am glad that you made us more aware!


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 4 years ago from Great Britain

Brilliant,. The way you did this as a real life conversation brought the point home with a bang.

I know My common sense would be affected if I though my grandson was stranded anywhere.

Thanks so much for a greatly useful hub . Sad days we live in.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

moonlake, thanks so much for sharing, That's a blessing that that girl was on her toes and it's just so sad that the elderly are targets for predators. Thanks for reading and commenting!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Linda, you live in Florida. You should educate the retirees down there ;-) Thanks for reading1


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

CC, logically, this kind fo scam makes no sense, but, tugging at emotions, people don't think clearly


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Sharon. I'm pleased that this enlightened you.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

I saw this on tv two nights ago near us. A man called a grandma and told her that her grandson was in jail in Mexico then he put her suppose grandson on the phone. She went right to the bank took out the money then went to a pay day leader to wire the money to Mexico thinking she was saving her grandson. The girl at the leading place questioned her and realized she was being scammed. She saved the lady from losing her money. Her grandson was safe in the US.

It happens so often.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Bruce needs to get bitch slapped! I hope he got busted and is serving time. Grandma was a wise woman. Many seniors wouldn't think twice and might send the money. WTG PDX!


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Wow! I know of someone that had this situation happen - luckily they had enough sense to hang up and actually call the real person. She didn't INITIATE the call. Great hub and thanks for calling attention to this. Voted up and SHARING.


Sharyn's Slant profile image

Sharyn's Slant 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

Wow Justin, this is very scary. I love how you presented this important message. Thanks!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you, Express. It's an important issue and so easy sometimes to pray on the elderly because of their lack of understanding many technologies.


Express10 profile image

Express10 4 years ago from East Coast

Great hub. This is a great guide to this scam. It simply evolves with our ever evolving technology.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks, Stages of me. Harming the elderly (or rather, not harming the elderly) is something I'm passionate about


The Stages Of ME profile image

The Stages Of ME 4 years ago

I also received an email similar ~ so glad someone is shedding some light on this one ~ very scary and sad. Thanks for the Hub


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

thank you, recognize. I'm glad you weren't taken advantage of. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!


one2recognize2 profile image

one2recognize2 4 years ago from New York

Had experienced this myself and thankfully I didn't fall prey to it as I am a New Yorker so therefore a true skeptic. It is truly sad that individuals can take advantage of others and how easily some can be fooled. Nice hub, a must share and thanks. Thumbs up to you for writing about it.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

red sturtz and alocsin, thanks for sharing your stories and taking the time to comment. These are trying times for all and desperation creates situation like these. I've been victim of scams a time or two in my life too. Thanks for sharing and spreading the word!


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Thanks for posting this warning. I actually almost fell for this, and I'm not a grandma. Got an email from a friend of mine who was traveling asking to send money via PayPal. Almost did but my real friend wrote everyone back and said someone was scamming her account. Voting this Up and Useful.


RedSturtz profile image

RedSturtz 4 years ago from A land far far away....

A friend had her account hacked an an email was sent to all her contacts in a similar vein to this scam - basically saying that she was overseas and needed money.

Luckily for her, it was an account especially created to deal with local people for a book she was writing in the town, so most realised it wasn't true.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Kelly, you and I think a lot alike when it comes to scams and injustice, I think. Thanks for sharing this and helping to get the word out!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

I agree, Cebu. it's quite despicable


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

till, thank you for sharing and please feel free to pass this on to whomever you think would benefit from it!


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I am tweeting and sharing PDX. You know I am all about reporting the scammers - nothing irks me more. Great advice and I had not heard of this scam. I am careful about what info I share on FB but it would be so easy to pull this one off.

I try not to mention when I will be out of town too, unless my husband is going to be home.


cebutouristspot profile image

cebutouristspot 4 years ago from Cebu

Some people will stoop so low just to get a few buck. I can never stomach this type of scam. :(


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Technology, the good, the bad and the ugly. Your hub should be read by all Grandmas! There are more scams than there are people...the email scam that want to help you make millions, they have money stuck in a bank somewhere, the donations from bogus organizations, the list goes on. Your warming comes at a time when scams are rampant. Voted up. Thanks for SHARING.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Indeed, CRedence, and,with emotional responses, people don't often think things all the way through. Thanks for reading and commenting!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Stessily, cruelty to animals and old people are tow things which really irritate me. Taking advantage of the defenseless is downright despicable. Thanks for reading!


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

Thanks for relaying this tragic circumstance, even if it is fictionalized. People are becoming more desparate so the scams are all that more elaborate.


stessily 4 years ago

PDX, It's tragic to think of all the scams that are aimed at the elderly and others. Unfortunately all the precautions and warnings dissipate instantly into thin air when a trusting soul's heart has been hooked with emotional bait such as their dear ones.

I appreciate that you highlighted this problem in such a creative way.

Let's put Columbo on this case; he'll put an end to these scams.:-)


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Eddy, thanks for sharing this. it's really important to educate people on what's real and what's not. Obviously, people fall for this, or it wouldn't be tried. Just don't let it happen to you or your loved ones!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

Hi PDX,

This is such a brilliant hub ;and one that so many should read.

It is sad that they have to but I am afraid that it is reality.

I am awarding this one that up up and away and also bookmarking so that I can share it with some of my elderly neighbours.

This may save much heartache; so thank you so much for sharing.

Take care and have a great day.

Eddy.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks Denise. It's scary what can happen here in the information age. It's hard to trust people sometimes! Thanks for reading and commenting!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Great advice, Justin. I actually received something similar in an email from my cousin. It stated that she was stranded in London. It could all have been in the up and up except that it wasn't. A quick check with her alerted her that her email account had been hacked and this scammer had solicited her entire list of contacts. She ended up changing her email address. Thanks for sharing.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thanks, Ruby. I'm glad you found this useful and hopefully it was presented in a somewhat entertaining fashion.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

rLcasa... please share, it's too important to keep to ourselves. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

I have heard of similar scams. I give a yearly donation to The Clinton Foundation to help feed the children, each year after i give, every organization bombards me with requests, most are not legit i'm pretty sure. Nothing is kept confidential, as it should be..This is a very useful article..Thank you Justin..


rLcasaLme profile image

rLcasaLme 4 years ago from Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Wow, this is a very important alert on the elderlies. I hope you don't mind I'll share this to my followers now. And hopefully, eventually they'd also share it with theirs.

Thanks for this info.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Missolive,m me too. I get a few scam e mails and calls a week. When I was younger, I fell for the "white van speaker" scam, but, now I've learned to be less trusting. Just use your head. You can always check snopes if you have questions about the legitimacy of something. If someone doesn't want to give you time to think, there's a reason...


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Jen, I agree. It's unfathomable. I worry about my mom. She's not yet elderly, but sdhe's very gullible and trusting at times. She's fallen for several scams and, when it comes to her kids, she doesn't even think twice before acting. it's a great trait, but also one that makes her easy prey. I'm glad you enjoyed (?) this hub :-)


missolive profile image

missolive 4 years ago from Texas

PDXKaraokeGuy - What makes this even scarier is that this is happening very often. My mom gets all kinds of calls and e-mails. Now that I am doing more online writing my own inbox is filling up with scams. Thank you for your creative way of sharing this horrible act.


jenubouka 4 years ago

As the elderly are easy to prey, they have been getting quite alert to these thank goodness. I have not a clue why some people would do this, times are tough but come on....At any rate I loved the way you wrote the hub, entertaining but with a serious tone. Awesome.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Thank you, Stephanie. Doing this over the phone is much more aggressive. but it's also scary. tug on the right heart strings,and you can get what you want out of people!


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

Homestead, I read somewhere that billions of dollars are lost every year to the Nigerian Prince scam, which i find unbelievable but, obviously, if it didn't work, people wouldn't keep trying it.


PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

PDXKaraokeGuy 4 years ago from Portland, Oregon Author

you're welcome, Tammy. I think people who pick on the elderly and the young and despicable


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

A version of this scam was going around email for a while, too. The scary thing is that these thieves can get so much personal information about their marks so easily via the internet that they can sound legitimate. Good article!


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas

I recently received an email from someone who was an aquaintance that was stranded in England, I was pretty sure this was a scam. It was so much the same! This is truly sad, because people will fall for it!


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

It is so sad that people think they can take advantage of the elderly. From housing project scams, this sort of thing, I think the laws should be made tougher on criminals. Thanks for bringing attention to such a terrible scam.

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