Scam artists on the phone
One of my local readers shared an alarming story with me. Her eight-five year old mother, who lives alone, was the victim of a scam which nearly cost her $125,000. I’m withholding their real names to protect their anonymity.
Mary got a phone call from her daughter. She was crying and hysterical and said that she had broken her nose in a car accident was now in jail, and needed help.
Mary said she began the conversation with “Hey, Mom” just like she always did and that through the tears, she sounded exactly like her own daughter Liz. Her daughter said the reason she was in jail was driving while texting.
Next a second woman got on the phone and explained she was the public defender in Wilmington. Mary needed to pay for her defense and asked if could she provide the fee. Mary said of course she would help her daughter. Mary asked why she didn’t phone her own husband and the impersonator said that Liz didn’t want her husband to know what happened. Please don’t tell him she said.
After she hung up, a distraught Mary called her brother to explain what happened and he offered to drive her to the bank.
On route Mary decided to call her other daughter Meg who said, “Mom, this is a scam!” Meg immediately telephoned her sister Liz who was safe at home.
“I’m not easily fooled. I taught school for years and have heard all kinds of stories, but I haven’t felt that shaken ever in my life. It really sounded exactly like Liz. I couldn’t believe it.”
When she phoned the DE state police, Mary was referred to the fraud department. The spokesperson said that unless money had exchanged hands, there would be no investigation.
How did the caller know she had a daughter or the name of the daughter? That information can be disclosed on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, but the family doesn’t know the answers to these questions.
Mary wanted everyone to know was that she became suspicious when the caller told her not to tell her daughter’s husband. The words “don’t tell anyone else” are key to this story. Those words should be suspect. Mary wanted me to share this story because she hopes to prevent anyone else from experiencing this trauma.
Mary was married for 57 years but lost her husband four years ago. She does have family nearby. I asked Mary how she was faring during the pandemic and she said that the isolation is hard. She hasn’t been able to see lots of other family like her two great grandchildren. She enjoys going to Physical Therapy for the social interaction.
“What has helped me through life is reading Eckhart Tolle’s book, Power of Now. If something happens that I don’t like, I can’t change it. I must move on. My husband isn’t here, but when he was here, I worried about his health all the time. When we worry all the time, then we are unhappy all the time.”
Mary says there are two words she lives by today: acceptance and gratitude. I want to thank her for sharing her wisdom. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.