Grandparents get duped out of thousands

Posted at 11:18 PM, Feb 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-05 23:18:25-05

BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Grandparents June and Donald in Ottawa County thought they were helping out a grandson in need.  But $7,000 later, they realized they had been scammed.

The caller claimed to be their 23-year-old grandson, Jack, and said he had been in a car accident and then thrown in jail.

All of it turned out to be a lie.

Authorities say this type of crime is taking place nationwide. Thieves call from unknown numbers and have people transfer money in untraceable ways.

It was a normal Tuesday afternoon for June and Donald, or so they thought until the phone rang.

“This boy came on and said, 'Grandpa, do you know who this is?’” said June. "Of course, it sounds like our grandson. Then he told us he had a little problem," that "Jack" was in Nevada and in jail after a car accident. In addition, he said, police found an illegal substance in the car. He was on the phone with the help of a lawyer, and, he said, the lawyer said some cash that would pay for the fine and get "Jack" on the next flight home.

“You know, boys do things in the moment,” said June. "If you think back when you're young and sometimes you do things like that and you don't tell your parents.  He didn't want his parents to know, and you can understand that, especially when it's that much money."

A cool $7000 is what was needed to get Jack out of his predicament, and June and Donald are the world's best grandparents.

“If it was any of our grandchildren, we would help no matter what they did, because it's just something grandparents do, and they know that, too,” said June.

June and Donald were given some interesting instructions on how to get the lawyer this money. “They told us to go to Speedway gas station and get a Vanilla Reload card,'” said June. So, they bought 14 cards and put $500 on each.

The couple was just glad their grandson would be on his way home, safe and sound.

But not even two hours had gone by when Donald went outside to shovel and saw the unexpected: “Jack drove by, and he waved to Grandpa, smiling,” said June.

June was confused as to how he got home so quick. and immediately picked up the phone, "and I said ‘Jack how'd you get back so fast?’”

Jack was at school all day and not in Nevada.

Donald and June filed a police report. Authorities said they have received more of these complaints lately, but there's not much they can do with only one fraud detective and no phone numbers to trace.

Donald and June even tried to call the phone company to get the numbers traced. AT&T told them they can't trace the numbers.  They also called Vanilla Reload company, who also wouldn't trace back where the money was transferred to.

“The reason we are doing this is so we can help someone else, so it doesn't happen to them,” said Donald.

Donald and June won't be getting their $7000 back, but they hope they can warn someone before it happens to them.