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Oceanside grandma scammed by 'perfect' phone impersonation of grandson

Oceanside grandma scammed by 'perfect' phone impersonation of grandson
Posted at 5:42 PM, Jun 06, 2023

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) - An Oceanside grandmother says a ’perfect’ impersonation helped scam her out of more than $14,000 in savings.

Late Friday morning, 89-year-old Shirley got a call on her landline and saw her grandson's first name on the caller ID. When she picked up, she heard a voice that sounded and talked just like her grandson, who is on active duty in the Air Force.

“He said, ‘Grandma, I broke my nose,’" said Shirley.

He told her he'd been in an accident, and handed the phone to his attorney, who told her that her grandson had been arrested for hitting another car and injuring a woman, 7 months pregnant.

“I was, of course, very shook up,” said Shirley. “I was sure it was my grandson that had talked to me. The words he used, the way he spoke.”

The lawyer offered a solution.

“If you pay cash bond today of $9200, the charges will be dropped,” said Shirley.

Shirley went to the bank and pulled out the cash. She was instructed to tape up the cash in a box.

Ring video shows her hours later, before she met a woman, possibly in her late 50s, just outside camera range with the box.

Moments later, the attorney told her, the pregnant woman's baby had died. The charges were more serious. Another $5,000 was needed.

“I was devastated, hysterical almost. I cried,” said Shirley. “This lady had lost a baby, and my grandson was going to be charged with murder. I missed many red flags, but was so concerned for my grandson."

Shirley made another trip to the bank. This time, a man picked up the box. But minutes later, returned, and he had the box.

“He said, ’I can't do this. I can't do this,’” said Shirley. “He was visibly upset."

He abruptly handed her the package and left. Minutes later, a different man picked it up.

Afterward, she called her grandson and realized she had been scammed of more than $14,000 of her savings.

“I think it's absolutely shameful,” said Shirley.

Shirley is now sharing her story in hopes of preventing others from feeling her pain.

“They need to be caught, because they are hurting older people, people who have worked all their lives to save. They are devious, heinous thieves,” said Shirley.

Experts say this scam differs from similar ones because the scammers actually showed up in person to collect the money.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Oceanside Police at 760-435-4900.