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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Scam Alert

I sent this out last year to everyone in my address book, so I know many of you have seen it.  For those who haven’t, this is a very true story and I understand the criminals are still working it. A copy of my original email follows and after, the account of what happened, written by my sister-in-law.

This is me, Daniel S. Bridger, and I am sending this message out to everyone in my address book!  Please read the account from my wife’s sister below.
My mother-in-law is close to the same age as my mother.  My mother-in-law is a very intelligent, accomplished mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Bottom line, she's is of SOUND mind.  What you will read is astounding, a mother, grandmother will sacrifice anything for their kin if she believes they are in trouble.  Bad thing is, the dredges of our society know this and are always thinking of how to take people's money.  I was totally and completely shocked at how close these bastards came to succeeding.  My mother-in-law has allowed me to forward this and I applaud her for that.  She does not want anyone else to have to go through this.  Please believe me, if anyone asks you to send money anywhere, for anything, please, please confide in SOMEONE close to you!!!  If you think that it can't happen to someone you know and love, it very nearly did to us.  Click on the read more link below to see the letter.

Mom asked me to tell you about an experience she has been through the past two days. Yesterday morning, she got a phone call. The girl on the other end said "Grandma?" She recognized the voice as Laci's--or so she thought. Then, the girl (who turned out NOT to be Laci) told her this story:
"I have hay fever so my voice is a little funny. I am in Mexico City for a friend's wedding--they had paid my way so I could come. After the wedding, where I only had a glass of wine, I was the designated driver for a car full of friends. I had a car accident. I ran into the back of another car. The police did a breathalizer test and said my blood alcohol level was over the limit, so they arrested me and took me to jail.
I've been sitting in jail since 2 am and I'm in big trouble, Grandma. They only gave me one call so I called you. I really need help, Grandma. I don't know what to do. I'm really sorry to ask you this, but I need bail money or I will be stuck here indefinitely. It's awful here, Grandma! I'm so embarrassed and I don't want anybody to know."
"I will be having a bail hearing in a little while. Then I will have the lawyer call you to tell you how you can help me." A while later, "Laci" called again, crying. She asked if the lawyer had called, which he hadn't. She cried a lot and said she didn't know what to do. Of course Mom was quite upset! The girl called again, crying and upset and pleading for help--and saying again not to tell anybody.
After a while, a lady who identified herself as Mary Goldstein from the U. S. Embassy, called. She said that the judge set bail at $7500 for "her granddaughter." If it was paid, she would be released to go home, and her record would be expunged of all charges. AND, Mom would receive a check by the end of next week for the $7500, minus the $250 wiring fee. Mom asked many questions to try to get everything straight.
"Mary" asked if Mom had a car and told her to go to her bank and get $7750 in cash. Then she said to take it to Check and Go (she gave Mom the address and said it was close to her bank) and wire it to District Federal Mexico in Mexico City. She asked Mom for her address and cellphone number so she could keep in touch--and mail the check back next week. Then "Mary" said that if anyone at the bank or Check and Go asked what it was for to say that "my daughter is buying a house in Mexico and I'm helping with the down payment." Mom asked why she should lie about it. "Mary" told her that they had to keep the whole situation very quiet because the car that "Laci" ran into was an important man in Mexico City and his daughter was in the hospital--and he demanded silence.
Mom was so convinced that it was really Laci and that she was really in trouble--and that she needed to not tell anybody--that she went to her bank and drained her 2 accounts and got the cash. She drove over to Check and Go and filled out the transmission form. Here's where somebody was watching out for her. The guy at Check and Go asked her what the money was for. Instead of telling him the "daughter buying a house" story, she tried to give him some basic information about helping her granddaughter. He kept questioning her and then said, "This sounds like a scam to me." He showed her a report that aired on KSL about a women who lost her life savings through a similar situation. They were both shocked when they realized that the person who scammed the money in the KSL story was a Mary Goldstein. That did it for the guy. He said he would not take Mom's money or do the wire transfer. Mom was upset and frustrated and drove home.
During the afternoon, Mom's phone and cellphone rang and rang--10 times on one and 9 on the other. Caller ID said Name Unavailable 000-000-0000. She didn't answer. She was agony all day, afraid that Laci was in serious trouble and not wanting to betray her confidence by telling someone. By 9:30 pm she couldn't take it any more and contacted me. I immediately looked at Facebook to see if Laci had been active on the site, which she had a couple of hours before. I told Mom that they wouldn't have let her do Facebook in a jail cell, and that this was, undoubtedly, a scam. She had the cash with her, so I knew it was safe. I told her to try to sleep and that I would come over first thing in the morning to help her get it straightened out.
I checked with Laci and Larraine and found out that Laci was at home and just fine. This morning I went to Mom's and called the police department to report the scam. They took a report and said Mom was really lucky that the guy at Check and Go wouldn't do the wire, because there is no way to track down scammers like this. He said this is a very common problem and that all they can do is try to educate the public. Scammers prey on Grandmas because they would do anything to help their grandkids when they are in trouble. All the scammer has to do is say, "Grandma?" and a Grandma will usually think it is one of her grandkids. He said that we should let everyone know what happened to get the word out, and keep others from going through this--and losing a LOT of money, for those not so lucky as Mom.
I drove Mom to her bank to redeposit the cash, where the person we talked to said that the teller should have questioned the cash withdrawal (she didn't). She said all banks try to check on this type of withdrawal to protect their customers. They told us about another popular scam, where someone calls saying they are from your bank. They carry on small talk and then say they are going to check your account for you. "What is your account number?" Then they might ask for your social security number. They said that a bank would NEVER ask for your account number or SS#. They have that information. Never give that information to ANYONE. If you initiate a conversation with your bank, and need help with something, they will verify your SS# and personal information to know it is you. But never give it to anybody in any other circumstance.
I drove over to Check and Go to thank the man for not letting Mom give away all she had. He said that he feels it's his duty to protect seniors who are targeted in this way. What a wonderful man! I took Mom home and she collapsed into her chair, exhausted. This was one of the worst ordeals she has ever been through. I hope she can recover from it.
Please make sure your parents/grandparents know about this scam and tell your friends, too. We don't want anyone else to go through this!
When I was leaving, Mom said to tell all of her grandchildren that if they get into trouble and need help, especially if they are in Mexico, DON'T CALL HER! :-)

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