Islander receives alarming phone call
A Bayview Drive woman received a disturbing phone call last week from someone claiming to be her grandson.
The crying voice, using the grandchild’s full name, told the woman that he immediately needed $150,000 wired to Las Vegas.
He told her that he was in jail after getting into a car wreck that left a woman and her child seriously injured. The $150,000 was needed for bail.
Fortunately for the woman, who wished not to be identified, her grandson was safe inside North Kingstown High School at the time. Police say that the caller was executing an ongoing telephone scam where con artists learn personal information about potential victims before making their call.
“Subjects are able to very easily research personal information about individuals on the Internet,” said Police Chief Ed Mello. “Armed with this information, they will call someone and indicate that a family member is in some sort of trouble and in need of money immediately.”
Mello said that callers usually say that a family member has been in an accident or was arrested. In this case, it was both.
“It really scared me,” said the woman. “He asked for my help, saying that he couldn’t ask his parents for the money. I said I don’t have $150,000. I told him to call me back and I would see what I could do.”
Before hanging up the phone, speculation got the best of her. She asked the caller how old he was. The person posing to be her grandson said he was born in 1992. Her grandson is only 18.
“That’s one thing I knew he would remember no matter how excited he was,” she said. “He would obviously know his birthday.”
After hanging up with the caller, the woman called her son, the father of the alleged boy in custody. He told her that the boy got safely on the bus that morning. The father called the school to verify.
“Some people fall for it,” she said. “If it was $10,000, maybe I would have. But it is very flattering that they think I can come up with $150,000.”
“We strongly urge residents not to send money in any case without speaking to that relative,” said Mello. “The Jamestown police can assist any resident with verifying these calls.”