Area resident Joan Mallory got news that most grandparents would consider the worst kind; her granddaughter told her she was in trouble. Only, the woman that called wasn’t actually Joan’s granddaughter, but a scammer.
Joan said she received a call in the middle of the week of April 6 from a woman claiming to be her granddaughter.
“I received a call at about 10 a.m. in the morning and a woman on the other side of the phone said, ‘Hi, Grandma’,” Mallory said. “And I was immediately excited because my granddaughter was away at college and I was thrilled that she might be calling me.”
Though Mallory said she has more than one granddaughter, the person on the other end of the phone sounded like the one that was away at college. So rather than ask the girl her name, Mallory said she called her by the name of that granddaughter right away.
The conversation started off pleasantly enough, the grandmother said, but it became clear that something was off. The girl was not revealing many details about herself and was instead opting to talk about how she had gotten into some sort of trouble.
She told Mallory she had been arrested after spending the night out drinking and that she was in a lot of trouble because she had hit another car while driving. Now, she said, she didn’t know what to do because she lacked the necessary money to be bailed out.
Joan, a woman nearly in her 70s, used her wits to realize that the woman on the other end of the phone was not actually her granddaughter and was able to keep her on the line to see if she might be able to gather more details about what happened.
She said that her concern for her granddaughter who was in trouble turned to suspicion when the girl refused to reveal information about where she might be.
“I asked her again where she was, and she kind of glossed over that,” Mallory said. “She just said she was arrested and would have to pay $1,800 before she could be released.”
In spite of Mallory’s repeated attempts to get more information, the girl refused to give any information about her whereabouts or any other information that could indeed identify her as being the granddaughter who was away
The conversation took an even stranger turn of events, Mallory said, when the woman said that she would have to communicate with a public defender named “Mr. Gold” in order to post bail.
By this point she said she knew the woman was lying because none of the pieces of the puzzle were adding up. It wasn’t clear where the girl was away or whether she was in college at all and it was especially troublesome that the girl refused to answer direct and simple questions.
Mallory agreed to help the girl and speak with the mysterious Mr. Gold because at this point she wanted to collect as much information as she could for the police.
“He called ten minutes later and he had a heavy New York accent,” she said. “And he told me I could send him $1,800 dollars and I stopped him right there. I said ‘do not call me again.’”
Mr. Gold tried to dissuade her from ending the possibly fraudulent agreement, she said, but she knew better.
“I said, ‘I know exactly what this is,’” she said.
Since that time information has been relayed to the police about what occurred but Mallory encouraged people to use common sense when speaking with someone who could be a possible scammer. She said it’s a good idea not to give them any information they could use and said she wishes she hadn’t blurted out her granddaughter’s name.
But, she said, cool-headedness is a logical approach that tends to prevail in a tricky situation.
“Trust your instincts,” she said.