Con artists use alarming story to con grandparents out of $2,500

Investigations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Con artists are scamming grandparents out of thousands of dollars amid the COVID-19 pandemic using a familiar tactic.

Con artists are posing as panicked grandchildren in trouble, urging that money be wired immediately because of some emergency. The victims in an alarm fall for the trap.

Charlotte and Doug Wise became the latest victims losing $2,500. On May 1 an alarming phone call was received. The two thought it was the son of Doug’s daughter, Jamison, on the line.

“He was crying and upset and was trying to tell us what all had happened,” Charlotte said. “We need to go and get some money.”

“He said, “I have been in a car accident, I’ve broke my nose and I’ve had 14 stitches.’ ” Doug said. “He said, ‘I ran a red light and ran into an old lady. She’s in the hospital.’ He said, ‘I want to commit suicide.’ “

At that point, Charlotte and Doug were very concerned. Doug was told not to call Jamison’s mother.

Instead, he was asked to call a “Sgt. Brown” because there was a supposed court hearing that afternoon. Doug made the call and was given instructions by “Brown.”

“And we need $2,500 bond money to go through this and get him out of here, because he’s a nice kid and we don’t want him here at the police station all this time,” Doug said.

Doug and Charlotte then went to a local Walgreens store. Following instructions, they were told to wire money by way of Western Union. They sent $2,500 dollars. Within hours, they got a call from “Sgt. Brown” for more money.

“The lady who was hit in the accident was in the hospital,” Doug was told by the con artists. “She was doing better, but she wanted Jamison to pay for the hospital bill.”

“They wanted $10,000 to start with he said. But they were settling for $2,100 which also included the lawyer, That’s when I began to be suspicious.”

Doug contacted Western Union who investigated the claim. The company found that Doug Wise sent the money and a “Doug Wise” received the money.

The Federal Trade Commission says in these days of coronavirus concerns, scammers make lies compelling to collect your money. The fraudsters add a sense of urgency. For example, an accident with injury.

No matter how dramatic the story, the FTC says resist the urge to act immediately.

“Investigate as much as you can about the situation,” Doug said. “Don’t give in to the emotion. If I had called his mother to start with, the whole thing would have been settled right then.”

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