'Grandparent Scam' Robs Rogers County Couple

Wednesday, October 6th 2010, 5:18 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

ROGERS COUNTY, Oklahoma – A Rogers County couple recently lost $5,500 in what is being called "the grandparent scam."

Authorities say the scam takes advantage of a grandparent's love for their grandchild.

The scammers claim to be a grandchild in trouble, needing money. Smart, capable people fall for it because the scammers are so believable.

It's already happened to grandparents in Tulsa and Sand Springs.

It recently happened to Bob and Peggy. Peggy was embarrassed, said she felt stupid, but decided if she could stop one person from losing money, it would be worth telling her story.

It started with a call and someone claiming to be her grandson Michael.

"If I had not been so sure it was Michael I was talking to, we wouldn't have done it, wouldn't thought of doing it," she said.

The man said a friend who worked at American Airlines had a death in the family, so they went to Canada for the funeral, but had been pulled over and police found drugs in the car and he'd been arrested. He begged her not to tell his father until he could get home to explain.

"I was scared to death," Peggy said. "He said the it was $11,000 bail and I said there's no way we can get that kind of cash and he came back and said that was for both, my half is $5,500.

Peggy gave the phone to Bob and a man claiming to be Sergeant John Bannon, badge number 139, said this could be kept off Michael's record, if they'd wire the money and even gave them the location of the nearest Western Union. So they did.

"He said God bless you," Peggy said.

The scammers called back, wanting money to repair the car Michael had rented. That's when Bob and Peggy called Michael's father and learned their grandson had been in Oklahoma all along.

"I was so relieved, I was so happy that he was not up there, and then I got angry," Peggy said.

Peggy is praying for the scammer, that he'll find God, not just use His name. She also wants to put him out of business.

"If I take one penny out of their pockets, that's something I've done to get even, yes, to get even," she said.

Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton says no law enforcement agency will ask you to wire them money.

He said people should ignore these calls or take the time to verify your grandchild is not under arrest or stranded.

Catching these people is next to impossible because they're mostly in Canada, the United Kingdom or Nigeria.

The best thing to do is don't send them any money.