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LOCAL: Local couple scammed nearly $2,000

Debbie Snapp: Greene Publishing, Inc.

Recently, just before Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in Madison County, a very caring and loving local couple received a call on their house phone from an attorney claiming to represent their grandson.

The attorney informed them that their grandson had broken his nose in an auto accident in Atlanta, Ga., and the woman in the other vehicle had been taken to the hospital. Because the couple’s phone line had terrible static, they asked if they could call the caller right back from a different phone and maybe get a better line, to which he agreed.

The couple called the attorney right back from a different phone number, but the line still had static, “maybe due to the oncoming bad weather,” the attorney suggested. He then informed them that their grandson had traveled to Atlanta from his home state of Washington to attend a funeral. After the service the grandson had had a few drinks and was involved in a wreck, the attorney said. He said the grandson’s alcohol level was two points over the legal limit and he had been taken to jail.

The grandson was then put on the phone to talk with his grandparents. The grandparents didn't recognize his voice, but then he did have a broken nose, and he was crying. He kept saying “please grandma, promise me that you won't tell anybody. I could lose my job.”

The grandparents kept having him repeat himself. They knew he had a wife and five young children. At this point they were concerned and worried for him. Finally, the attorney came back on the phone and told them that because this was the grandson’s first offense, he could get his bail down to $1,963. And if paid that same night, the grandson wouldn't have to spend any time in jail. The grandparents agreed to pay the bail; they asked what did they have to do.

The attorney then told them to get a money gram at Wal-Mart and do four things: give their grandson's full name, make it out for $1,963, have a 10-minute gram sent, and send it to New York, N. Y. The grandparents were given another number to call as soon as the money gram was sent, so that a carrier could be waiting to pick up the funds.

This all sounded legit; the attorney had all the grandson’s personal information. But it was in fact a scam!

Early on Saturday morning, the very next day, the grandparents received another call from the attorney informing them that the woman in the hospital was hurt, that she was pregnant, and that the grandson was at fault for the accident. He told them that the judge hearing the case wouldn't release their grandson for fear he would jump bail. They would need to send another $1,500. He further told them that their grandson would agree to take DUI classes and the attorney would have the classes set up so he could take them back in his home state of Washington. The grandson was then put back on the phone and he again sobbed about his job and family, and asked them not to tell anyone. He kept saying how sorry he was. He spoke to both grandparents. The grandmother mentioned to the grandson that he didn't sound right, and he again mentioned his broken nose.

Because it was Saturday and their bank was closed, the grandparents informed their grandson they couldn't do anything until the next week. They received calls again on Sunday and on Monday, but because of Hurricane Irma, their bank was still closed. It was at this point the grandmother decided to call the grandson's family in Washington... to check on the wildfires in the area and to let them know that she and grandfather were okay.

Her grandson answered the phone. She explained to him what had transpired over the weekend. He told her to contact the Sheriff's Office and to give them all the information she had noted about the ordeal; the case number the attorney had given her, the phone numbers, the Wal-Mart receipts, and any and all information she had jotted down or could recall. He ended the call with, “Thank you grandma for loving me so much. And, remember this grandma, I don't drink.”

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