Knoxville woman loses $10K to 'grandma scam'

Knoxville woman loses $10K to 'grandma scam'

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Jody said the scammer told her that her grandson had been involved in an accident and needed money. Jody said the scammer told her that her grandson had been involved in an accident and needed money.
Jody told 6 On Your Side she sent $10,595 to the scammers. Jody told 6 On Your Side she sent $10,595 to the scammers.
"She asked me not to say anything because that's what they told her. I did that out of love and respect for my mother," said Jody's daughter Michelle. "She asked me not to say anything because that's what they told her. I did that out of love and respect for my mother," said Jody's daughter Michelle.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It's not the perfect white collar crime, but is very close to it. Victims are often reluctant to speak out, except for a Knoxville woman who wanted to warn others after realizing the expensive mistake she had made.

From the beginning, the fraudster warns his target not to tell anyone about what they're doing. Federal agents say thousands of people have been victims of this hoax, and it is one 6 On Your Side has reported before.

Jody and her daughter Michelle never keep secrets from one another except the other week. Both women asked for their last names not to be revealed.

Jody's troubled secret started with a call on her cell phone.

"They said that my grandson had had a wreck in a rental car," she explained.

Her grandson Max is an Air Force recruit assigned to a training unit in Texas. Max, she was told, had hit a telephone pole in Maryland and must pay thousands for the damage.

"They let me talk with him briefly. Everything was very hurried," Jody said.

Jody said the voice she heard sounded like her grandson, but was distraught. The request was for money from a so-called attorney by the name of Mr. Weisman. 

After withdrawing cash from her bank, Jody went to Walmart and wired $2,500 to Maryland. However, three hours later, there was another call.

"And then the second call, they said they found out he had been drinking," Jody said.

This time she was directed to go to a different Walmart and wire $2,600.

Then the next day, Jody got a third call. Again, she followed the same routine, going to yet a third Walmart.

"When your grandson is involved, you will spend your last dollar," she said, explaining that the whole time she thought her grandson was really in trouble.

It was the fourth call asking for even more money that set Jody on edge.

"Well, she was frantic when she called me Friday morning," said Jody's daughter Michelle.

Michelle said she had not heard a word about her nephew until her mother's call.

"She asked me not to say anything because that's what they told her. I did that out of love and respect for my mother," said Michelle.

Jody told 6 On Your Side she sent $10,595 to the scammers.

"Life insurance money from my husband's death," she explained.

Federal agencies that have investigated the grandparent hoax say the callers are very smooth, but you can trip them up.

Don't fill in the blanks for them. If the con artist says your granddaughter is in trouble, ask which one. Most likely, they'll hang up.

Do what ever is necessary to confirm your real relative's whereabouts. Call them or call their parents.

Finally, if the caller asks you to wire money, that's a good indication it's a scam.

Jody is embarrassed for being so naive, she says, and wants others to learn from her $10,000 mistake.

"Be very careful. No matter what they tell you, tell somebody. Above all, tell somebody," she said.

It wasn't until several days after the final payment that Jody opened up and talked with Max's mother who said he's in Texas and can't leave the air base because of his training schedule.

Walmart has a warning about this scam on its website, as do other businesses that sell MoneyGrams. Once that money is wired, there is little that authorities can do.

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