At its recent spring general meeting, a member of the Medicine Hat and District Retired Teachers Association told a story of getting caught up in a grandparent scam, thankfully catching on to the hustle before handing over more than $9,000.

The member, who began teaching in 1967 and has a background in theatre, started out with a timeline.

“I wanted to create this, the teacher coming out in me. I didn’t introduce myself, I started off with 1:15 p.m.,” and the day and time the call came in. The call lasted 12 minutes, and one hour later they entered a bank, leaving nine minutes later with the required cash.

“What transpired in those 12 minutes and why had I acted so out of character – I stand before you as one who was indeed caught in a grandparent scam.”

Techniques of the scammer were explained to the assembled group of retired teachers. “Scammers now have such a variety of ways to get information. Facebook is a goldmine.”

The call started off with the distraught voice of a young man telling his ‘grandparent’ he needed help.

“It’s rapid, rapid, rapid. One of the main techniques of scammers. There are two ways they can do it, create a scenario which is all panic, or they become your best buddies.”

In a crisis the member says their thought processes tend to slow down, as does their speech.

“Most people would have jumped in their car and gone to the bank and got the money right away. It would have been done within an hour.”

The speech of the caller was rapid fire and repetitive, attempting to create panic and fear. At the bank, the victim was questioned by the teller, but still exited the bank with the required cash.

“When I left the bank. $10,000 isn’t overly heavy and I honestly felt as I walked to my car and got in, I felt a change, but I never felt I was being scammed.”

Once back in their car, they called the number given and the first question was if they had the money, the second asked where they were. The scammer was not happy the victim was still in the car and was annoyed they hadn’t gone home and called from there, so the scammer demanded a home address.

This is where the victim started to question the process because the fake grandson said he was in jail during the original phone call. The scammer said they needed an address so a bonded courier could collect the money.

“I thought there is no way I’m giving $10,000 in cash to some guy I don’t know.”

An excuse to the caller was made, the call was ended and the member sat in their car pondering what had happened, deciding in the end to go to the police station with the money, which is where it might be needed if a grandson really was in jail.

“I’ve just had numerous people come up and tell me stories that I’m not the only one.” The member’s speech to Retired Teachers Association ended with, “Colleagues, I stand before you as one who got away, this time. You have to be ever vigilant, that is the whole thing about this.”

By SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Apr 18, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Medicine Hat News   Medicine Hat, Alberta

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