EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The phone rang. An unsuspecting 95-year-old woman answered.
A scammer was on the other end of the line, and he was convincing.
“Someone told her, ‘your grandchild is in serious trouble,'” the woman’s daughter told Call 12 for Action. “He was supposedly in a car accident and he got taken to jail.”
The woman does not drive so the caller sent a cab to take her to the bank.
She was instructed to withdraw thousands of dollars and send the money to an address hundreds of miles away.
The woman and her daughter are embarrassed about the situation and don’t want to be targeted again, so Call 12 for Action agreed to keep their identities private.
“She got her coat, she got in the cab, she didn’t call me,” the daughter said. “These guys wanted $8,500 and she was going to get it.”
“She went to get the $8,500 because she believed that she was going to take care of the situation,” she added.
Det. Lt. Raymond Blinn said East Providence Police got involved in three similar scam investigations in the span of a week.
“The thing that’s new for us – these people are actually calling local cab companies and having them go pick up these people, already prepaid for the cab, and then bringing them to the store and either having them wire the money or ship it,” Blinn said.
Police have interviewed the taxi drivers and determined they are not involved in the scams, according to Blinn.
Blinn also said police do not believe the three recent cases are connected, but he said they are reminders that scammers will go to great lengths to trick people out of money.
“This could happen to anybody,” the woman’s daughter said.
“If you have an elderly parent and they’re living alone, just be more aware of what’s going on with the telephone,” she cautioned.
The Federal Trade Commission’s checklist to avoid family emergency scams:
- Resist the urge to act immediately
- Ask questions a stranger would not be able to answer to verify the person’s identity
- Call the person’s real phone number
- Consult with friends and family
Because of quick action by bank employees, the woman’s daughter, and police, scammers did not get any money.