Bad actors are getting very good at playing the pretend role of “victim.”
Case in point is this recounting of a phone call by Trail grandma Lynn Gould. The conversation between Lynn and her “grandson” Joe, left her heart pounding for hours afterwards and her feeling of security, shaken for even longer.
In the end, she didn’t fall for the very convincing crying voice at the other end of the line and send money to bail “Joe” out of jail, but Lynn wants to warn others about her experience so they know just how good the scam artists are getting with their ruse.
“I consider myself fairly intelligent for a person my age,” she began. “But we need to get out how terrified I was, they sucked me right in — I was sure I was talking to ‘Joe,’ and he was in trouble.”
The call came into her home from a private line. Thinking it was a doctor’s office or possibly the hospital, Lynn picked up the call.
On the other end was a voice racked in sorrow and fear, claiming it was Joe, Lynn’s grandson who lives in Red Deer. As the convoluted story played out, Lynn was convinced it was her grandson Joe, who does indeed live in Red Deer.
Joe was sick, went for a COVID test, which was negative, but was told by the nurse he had strep throat and needed to get to a doctor. On his way home, his buddy was driving his brother’s car, the Red Deer police pulled over the car.
Next in the ruse, “Joe” told Lynn the police found thousands of dollars worth of drugs in the trunk and he was now in jail.
“Don’t tell anyone grandma, I don’t do drugs, but I need help,” the supposed Joe cried to Lynn.
Next, “Joe” said a Red Deer police officer was trying to help him out and wanted to talk with Lynn. The compassionate “police officer,” who claimed all he wanted to do was help this sick boy, went as far to give Lynn a name — Constable Stewart — a badge number and a phone number to the detachment.
While all this was happening the phone was handed back to “Joe” who said he needed $10,000 for bail.
The whole ruse went on for about 15 minutes, Joe crying the whole time as detail after detail of the scenario played out.
Lynn finally said I will call you right back, I just need to make a few calls first.
She hung up and Googled the Red Deer RCMP detachment and called them with the badge number and phone number she was given. The person on the other end immediately warned her she was in a scam and to call the Trail detachment immediately.
Lynn then called her grandson Joe.
“I should have done this first,” she said in retrospect. “When he answered I said, ‘Joey where are you?’”
Her actual grandson told her he was at work, but was worried about how distraught his grandma was.
Once she was assured Joey was okay and that the bad actor was playing out a very good role — down to the finest of details — Lynn called the Trail RCMP and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
“It shook my heart for about three hours,” she said. “They sucked me right in, I really believed I was talking to my grandson, I just knew it. It was awful.”
While she’ll never really know how the fraudsters got her phone number and the name of her grandson, after a little detective work Lynn suspects she knows how this all happened.
“Joe got a phone call from an Alberta number at around 11:30 a.m. that morning,” she said. “He answered the same way he always does, ‘Hi there, this is Joe. How can I help you?’”
The real Joe told his grandma about this call and that the line went dead after he answered.
No more than an hour later is when Lynn got her call from “Joe” saying he was in trouble and needed “help.”
“He was a good actor,” she said of the caller. “They sucked me right it and it was extremely scary. “
Trail RCMP often send out cautionary advisories to the public warning to never give out personal details, credit card numbers etc. over the phone. And never e-transfer to someone in-question because once the money is sent, it is not recoverable.