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February 15, 2014

In Your Opinion: 'Don't tell Mommy,' but it's a scam

The Daily Star

---- — Here’s how the scam works. I get a phone call, presumably from my grandson (sounds just like him).

“Hi Grandma, did you hear about my trip?”

“No, what’s up?”

“My friend won a trip to Guatemala and he invited me. Something bad happened.” His voice trembles. “We rented a car, a taillight was out, a cop stopped us. We’re foreigners, so they searched the car and found a bag of dope. They arrested us; I’m in jail! I need $1,700 for bail. I have to go to court tomorrow. Can you help me? I’ll pay you back. Please don’t tell Mommy! She’ll go crazy worrying. The man from the consulate wants to talk to you and explain.” 

Larry the scammer gets on the phone, voice sweet as pie. “We believe Johnny is a sweet kid, no trace of dope in his system or pocket linings.” 

He explains how and where to send the money pronto so Johnny can be expedited in the morning and put on a plane that afternoon. Up and out, I fetch the money and send it. More money for Johnny’s expenses before he can board the (fake) plane. 

Finally, doubt creeps into my mind. Scammer calls again. I ask to speak with Johnny so I can ask him the name of his dog to prove he is actually there. Larry says he was taken to the airport to board the plane; all I have to do is pay his fines and he will be on his way. 

Wrong answer! I call my daughter. I find out that Johnny is in school that very moment. Bang! Truth and horror become the same. I’ve been scammed. 

“Don’t tell Mommy”? DO tell Mommy. Save yourself a lot of money. 

Susan Churchill