The caller said her grandson was in a car accident. He said he was a lawyer and asked that she wire him $3,800, or her grandson would stay in jail.
The call came in the morning.
“Your grandson was in a car accident,” the caller said. “He wasn’t wearing a seat belt. He went to the hospital. He had to get stitches.
“He’d been at a wedding. And he had a couple of glasses of wine,” the caller continued. “He’s in jail.”
The caller said he was a lawyer, a public defender. He gave my mother his name and a phone number. And a document number regarding her grandson’s case.
The caller said her grandson’s phone had been broken in the accident. The caller let her talk to her grandson, who pleaded with her not to tell his mom what happened.
The lawyer asked that she wire him $3,800 — today — or her grandson would stay in jail for several days.
This is the story my desperate mother called and told me recently. Her grandson was hurt. He was in jail. She didn’t want to break her promise to her grandson by calling his mother, my sister. Could I help?
She has enough stress in her life. She’s almost 84. She has been fighting pancreatic cancer and is undergoing regular chemotherapy treatments. She helps care for my father. He is 85. He has dementia. They live in their own home. While they have home care aides around the clock, my mother has tried to maintain a degree of independence. And relative sanity. Even as her own physical and cognitive faculties begin to fail her.
But this threw her into a panic.
It was a scam. But to my mother, the story seemed so plausible. She was convinced what the “public defender” told her was true. She was sure she had talked to her 21-year-old “grandson.” And she believed that if she didn’t send money, her hurt “grandson” would stay in jail.
I am thankful she called me. I said scam. My mom didn’t believe me.
I called my husband, a lawyer and former public defender. He said scam. Public defenders don’t operate that way. They never ask for money upfront.
I called my sister — the one my mother promised not to call — also a lawyer who still does public defense work. She said it’s a common scam.
And senior citizens are usually the victims.
The National Council on Aging has a list of the “