Early yesterday evening (after banks close), an elderly grandma friend receives a panicked call from who she believed to be her grandson. The “grandson” was crying and said he was just in an accident, had a broken nose, was arrested for dui and in jail in Iowa. He said he had a lawyer who was going to call with instructions of how to get him out of jail and things expunged. He begs the grandma not to tell his parents of the call.
Minutes later the “lawyer” calls and instructs that he can get the son bonded out and may be able to get everything expunged but that the grandma needed to immediately go to Walmart and transfer 2400. Dollars to an account in New Jersey which was the national bail bond center. She was instructed to lie to Walmart and tell them the money was just for a relative and not to tell them it was for a bail. She tells him that she will have her husband call to get the details for wiring the money via Walmart.
The grandma, quite upset and confused, calls her husband who I happened to be sitting with at Glenwood Oaks Restaurant. I take his cell and pretend to be him calling the “lawyer.” He identifies himself as public defender. He says the boy is at the courthouse in Des Moines Iowa being ready to be taken up to the judge in 45 minutes. He says it is Judge Wilson and doesn’t give an explanation as to how this young man from a well to do family qualified for a public defender. He is vague about how things are going to be expunged if the bail is posted but insists they will get the money back. I say I will get back to him and then I immediately called Mike Polen at our office to do some quick computer investigation and he found that the only Judge Wilson is not even in the county identified by the lawyer. We decide that if this was legit it is better that the son sit the night in jail and get bonded out through normal channels. I called the father. The father said the son was with a school group on a bus in Iowa over the past weekend but thought he was back at school in Wisconsin. The father calls the son who is in a library in Madison Wisconsin.
It was an elaborate scam called the “grandparent’s scam.” The bottom line is BE CAREFUL and NEVER give out personal information or transfer money to anyone you don’t know on short notice. There are many scams going around whereby callers pretend to be calling for jury duty, the IRS, the county real estate tax bureau, credit agencies, etc…
IF YOU HAPPEN TO GET ANY CALL OUT OF THE ORDINARY instead of acting call us first for free advice.