A Calgary grandma has been caught by the grandparent’s scam, strung along for a week with a fake story about her grandson.
Isabella Warmerdam told Global News the fraudsters started calling her on the morning of July 24.
“Oma, Oma I’m in trouble,” she said he told her. “He said, ‘Can you help me?’ and I said, ‘Sure.’”
The caller, whom Warmerdam said sounded “exactly like her grandson” claimed he had been in a car accident injuring himself and the other driver. He even said he had broken his nose, explaining why his voice sounded a little “muffled”.
He went on to say he’d been accused of texting while driving and was facing serious charges. Luckily, he added, he’d met a lawyer named “Frank” who was willing to take on his case. Frank then came on the line and told the senior a complicated tale.
He said the other party, involved in the crash, was supposedly a government official from the U.S. and wanted some money to deal with their injuries.
‘To help him (the grandson) so he does not have to stay the night in jail, can you please make over $8,000?” she was asked. “Go to the bank, ask for the money, put it in an envelope and somebody will come to your door to pick it up.”
Warmerdam said she did what they asked. But a day later, she got another call, asking for more money. The claim this time, the injured person was now in a coma, and more money was needed for her treatment and to keep the situation quiet.
“$9,000. Same thing. Go to the bank. Get the money. Put it in an envelope and a courier will get it,” she said she was once again told. “All I saw was my grandchild and the jail cell, and I was going to do anything possible to keep him out of there.”
But again, it didn’t end there. The supposed lawyer said his team also needed to be paid $5,000, money she was asked to send by tracked delivery. Every time, she said she was told not to tell anyone.
“I did say, ‘What about mom?’ And he said, ‘No don’t tell mom and dad because they’re going to be so worried.’”
However, a day later while sitting with a friend, Warmerdam said she decided to call her grandson herself. He picked up and had no idea what she was talking about.
And then I thought – I’ve been had!”
The jig is up
Her real grandson then told the rest of the family what had happened. Her daughter Mirjam Richardson told Global News she had thought something was “off” with her mother. She now realizes it wasn’t.
“I said, ‘Why didn’t you call me? I’m the parent,” she asked her mom. “She said, ‘I know, I know. But I wasn’t allowed to.’”
Richardson said her mom and the entire family has been left reeling from this scam, not only because of the lost money, but also her mom’s lost sense of safety.
“She’s so drained and distraught now. And her wellbeing, questioning, ‘Are they going to come back? They know where I live.”
The family stayed with their mom for a while, to ensure her safety. The senior continues to replay the events in her mind, over and over, and admitted she is quite shaken.
“I’m scared,” she told Global News. “Actually, I’m a little scared.”
Police and bank notified
Warmerdam has filed a report with police and contacted her bank. She is now waiting to see if any of the money will be reimbursed.
Her family is also waiting for answers and hopefully some money back from TD Bank. Richardson questioned why no one at the bank allegedly alerted her mom that she was possibly being scammed.
“Why wasn’t my mom told these red flags?” Richardson asked. “When somebody takes a large sum of money out of their bank account, especially when you have this day, and then it’s spaced, and then it’s this day, and then it’s spaced, isn’t there a red flag somewhere?
A bank spokesperson told Global News in a statement: “We’re very sorry to hear about Ms. Warmerdam’s situation and understand it can be distressing to be the victim of fraud. While we can’t speak to details of any particular case, I can confirm this case is being investigated by our team.”
TD also offered up some general guidance to protect customers from grandparent/emergency scams including to hang up and call them back using a number you have for them as well as always being honest with bank branch staff.
TD has not said if any of the 75-year-old’s money will be reimbursed.
Warmerdam said while she would like her money back, she decided to go public to warn others.
“I phoned Global (News) to tell everybody else what happened. I don’t want people who have less than me to go through this,” she said. “You love your children and grandchildren right? And you don’t listen to the alarm bells.“
This article was originally sourced from www.globalnews.ca