Dick Eppstein, Northwest Ohio Better Business Bureau president, says the biggest scam right now affecting senior citizens is the “Grandma Scam.”
Eppstein, in a talk to East Toledo Club luncheon guests, said it’s actually a worldwide scam. In Japan it’s called, ‘It’s me, it’s me.’
“It’s just horrible,” Eppstein said. “It’s relatively new, at least in its biggest form. Someone calls you up and
claims to be your grandchild and they need money. They suck grandparents out of their lifesavings and there are all varieties — (they say) ‘I was in a car accident in Toronto, I’m in the hospital in Calgary’ — they are all over the place.”
He told a true story about a BBB co-worker whose mother is in her 80s. The co-worker, named “Jean,” has told her mom about the scam and given her information to read, but she still got fooled.
“A couple weeks ago, Jean’s mother gets a phone call, answers the phone, probably in the middle of the night, ‘Grandma, it’s me, it’s your grandson. I’m in trouble.’ ‘What’s wrong, Mike?’ They’re thinking, thank you for telling me the name of my grandson.
“‘Grandma, I’m in jail in Peru. What happened is, I’ve been traveling, We rented a car, the police stopped us, and there were drugs in the car. I was not involved in it but I’m in jail. I’ve got to get $500 to make bail and money to get me out of Peru, and you can’t tell Mom and Dad — they’ll kill me if they find out about this.’
“Jean’s mom panics and says, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’ve got to help Mike, my grandson.’ So Grandma goes and gets $2,500 out of the bank and she’s debating to herself, should I tell Jean what’s happening? All morning she is agonizing. Finally at 11 o’clock, she says, ‘I’ve got to call Jean.’
‘She calls Jean at my office and says, ‘Jean, I’ve got some bad news.’ Mom says, ‘Who died? What’s the bad news?’ ‘No, no, no, it’s not that, Jean. I’m sorry to tell you that Mike is in jail in Peru.’ Jean says, ‘What? Mom, Mike is in Chicago. I talked to him last night. Mom, it’s the Grandma Scam. I’ve warned you about this 100 times.’”
Eppstein, says, fortunately for Grandma, she never sent the money.