Local woman scammed out of $10,000

Sheila Smith
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Scammers could be using information gathered from social media and the Internet to create stories that seem believable to unsuspecting targets.

A Jennings woman who was recently scammed out of $10,000 said law enforcement told her this is how some information about her and her grandson could have been obtained.

To protect her and her grandson’s privacy, she asked not to be named. However, she wanted to share her story in hopes of warning others.

“I read the stories about people being scammed and I’m careful of the information I share,” she said. “But how this first started was so believable, I gave in.”

A man called from Omaha, Nebraska, claiming to be her grandson’s attorney. He identified the grandson by name and said the young man had been arrested after running a red light and seriously injuring another person in a crash. The supposed attorney said a bond had been set at $15,000 but that he was trying to get the amount lowered.

The caller then put a young man claiming to be the grandson on the phone.

“He was crying when he got on the phone and called me by the name he and my other grandkids use for me,” the woman said.

For example, her grandkids refer to her as “Mawmaw Jane.”

“He was scared and begging me to help him,” she said. “I told him he should call his parents or his uncle. He said he would tell them everything as soon as he got out of jail. But he said he was scared and wanted to get out of there.”

I read the stories about people being scammed and I’m careful of the information I share. But how this first started was so believable, I gave in.”
- Jennings scam victim

The woman was given instructions to wire $5,000 via FedEx to what she was told was the address of a federal building in Omaha. The transfer was to be addressed to her grandson.

She said she was suspicious and even told the so-called attorney that the situation almost sounded like a scam.

“But they knew my grandson’s name, they knew what he called me and the young man pretending to be my grandson sounded like him and he seemed so upset,” she said.

The grandson and his parents reside in Texas, the woman said. Because the person claiming to be her grandson told her he wanted to explain everything to his parents once he was out of jail, the woman did not contact them, not wanting to worry them.

The day after the initial call, however, the supposed attorney called again. He told her the person her grandson crashed into was a pregnant woman. He said as a result of the crash, her unborn child died and her grandson’s total bond had been increased by another $5,000.

The woman wired $5,000 more to the Omaha address.

It was after the second transaction that she told her sister about the situation.

“She called the police department in Omaha and they told her it was a scam,” the woman said. “The address I was told to send the money to was completely across town from where the police station was.”

The woman filed a report with Omaha police and reported the situation to local law enforcement and her bank.

“The bank actually looked up the address that I was told to send the money to,” she said. “It’s a vacant building that’s for sale, that used to have apartments. Someone was waiting there for that money.”

FedEx was also alerted to the situation and was hoping to intercept the package before it was picked up. However, they were too late.

The woman ended up contacting her grandson’s parents to tell them about the situation. She first asked if her grandson was home.

“It turned out that he was actually on a trip but it wasn’t in Nebraska,” she said.

The scammers were bold enough to contact the woman a third time. She confronted the caller as being a thief and the person ended the call.

While her grandson was not actually involved in the scam, the woman said she could not understand how the thieves knew the young man’s name and his nickname for her. How would they even know the two were relatives or how she could be contacted?

“It was pointed out to me that all those little details, even though they don’t seem important, can be found online,” she said. “I don’t know much about computers. But you can find out so much about people on the Internet and on places like Facebook. You can find out how people are related on genealogy sites. It was simple information that was enough to make me think the situation was real.”

The woman said law enforcement told her it is possible she could see some of her money returned, but it is likely she will not.

“I’m sure I will never see a dime of that $10,000 again,” she said. “My main thing is to warn people. I never thought I would be scammed but there were little things that made me think my grandson was actually in trouble. You don’t know what information can be found about you and your family on the Internet that could be used in a scam.”