Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fair and Serious Warning

The incident I am about recount to you happened a couple of weeks ago but, to be honest, I have had a hard time processing the total evilness and cruelty of the perpetrator.  So I decided about 10 minutes ago that if I don't write this right now, it might not get written.

Mr. and Mrs. Potter are very dear to me.  They are an elderly, retired couple who would do anything possible for the ones they love.  They are private people, not mucking about on the computer like the rest of us.  So whomever pulled the stunt I am about to tell you about hacked someone, somewhere very deliberately in order to put the pieces together.  The Potters received a telephone call on a Monday afternoon at about 1:30 p.m.  The caller identified himself as Fletch, their grandson, and said he was calling from Spain.  The man didn't completely sound like Fletch  but the phone line was a tad distorted as would be possible with an international call.  He said that he had gone to Spain for a wedding and talked in detail about said wedding and the events leading up to it.  Then he related that he had run into another car and caused a lot of damage.  However, his insurance company would not cover the damage, estimated at $2,000, and he couldn't leave Spain until he had compensated the other driver.  He then asked his "grandparents" to help him with this money.  He said that he didn't want to call his parents because he knew that they wouldn't be able to help. And he needed to get home.

Well, the Potters explained to this man that they didn't have $2,000.  Fletch asked if they had a credit card that they could use.  They said "no".  At this point he asked them if they could borrow against their house (!?!).  They said that they would see if there was anything that they could do but did question if he had called his wife.  At this point the man got very quiet and didn't really answer.  They asked for his phone number so they could call him back when they had any information.  He said that he had left the phone in the wrecked car and would have to get back to them.  He would call them again in an hour or so. 

Mrs. Potter, by now very worried and upset, called the bank and after explaining the situation was told that the bank would loan them the $2,000 and to let them know where to send it.  These people do not have money.  These people are not in good health.  But they were willing to put themselves on the line for their grandson because they love him so much. 

Hours went by while the Potters paced the house.  The phone did not ring.  They waited until the next day, Tuesday, at which point Mrs. Potter was beyond frantic.  She called one of her sons who lives locally to make sure she had the right telephone number for Fletch.  After telling him the story, Arther said, "Mom, it is a scam."  Mrs. Potter tentatively agreed that it probably was but she desperately needed to speak to Fletch.  She had to hear his voice.  Arther gave her the number that he had.  After repeated attempts and repeated voice messages, the Potters had still heard nothing. 

Of course, during this time the couple discussed the phone call endlessly trying to pick out clues.  First of all, there was no way Fletch would have gone to Spain without mentioning it to his parents.  They are a very close knit family.  Secondly, why in the world would his wife not have gone?  Well, maybe she had to work.  And then there was the fact that the man kept calling Mr. Potter "Grandpa".  That word has never been used.  In fact, Mr. Potter has always had a very specific name used by his grandchildren and great grandchildren, always.  And finally, at the end of the conversation as is the absolute norm in the Potter family, Mrs. Potter said, "We love you, Son."  There is always from all of them the same response.  "We love you, too."  The man said nothing for an extended pause and then hung up. 

Unfortunately, in this case, Fletch has two phones.  One he uses for work, the other he has had for a very long time but doesn't use very often at all.  On Wednesday, 2.5 days after the original phone call from "Spain", he happened to notice that there were messages on the older phone from his grandparents.  So he called them back.  The first words out of Mrs. Potter's mouth were "Where are you?"  Fletch said, "I'm walking the dog."  She said, "No, where are you walking the dog?"  And he replied "At home".  She related what had happened and after a long discussion during which Fletch talked about other things as well, the Potters felt relieved and much better.  Fletch then passed along his new number as well as the number of his wife which they just simply had not gotten before.  He also said, "I would never call you for money.  Why in the world would you have it when my parents don't?  And I would have called them first no matter what, if simply not to upset you!" 

Long story short, some evil, cruel, nasty person tried to scam the Potters for money they don't have by scaring them half to death about the safety of their grandson.  Thank God that creep (and I am struggling not to use bad language here) never called back.  But this couple's health was put in severe jeopardy.  Mrs. Potter has spent the last two weeks trying to recover from the terrifying incident.  They didn't call Fletch's parents because he asked them not to.  That was the only thing they did "wrong" by trying to protect their children.  Instead, Mrs. Potter has had severe repercussions health-wise.  After seeing her physician the other day he said that this could, indeed, have been  caused by the fear and anxiety they endured.  Mr. Potter, in ill health himself for quite some time, stepped up and took over while she was unable to do her regular activities.  It is highly possible that Mrs. Potter actually suffered a silent stroke.

I am beyond enraged.  We in North Carolina had heard of this sort of scam in the last year because it happened in the area.  But the Potters had never heard of such a thing.  These monsters are preying on older retired people because they are so vulnerable, from a different generation where this kind of evil was unheard of.  What is totally confounding is that Fletch and his grandparents live states away from each other.  How in the world were they connected?  Who could possibly put them together?

So if any of you have elderly relatives or friends, it is essential that you are aware of this scam.  It is dangerous and, I'll say it again, cruel and evil.  And I, for one, would like to personally take out "Fletch from Spain" with my bare hands!

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry it took me so long to read this- what's amazing is that there was a story on the news tonight with almost the same details. I'm glad your friends weren't scammed.