Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

October 24, 2013

Scamming the scammer

“Grandma.”

“Jacob?”

“Grandma, I’m in trouble. I was in Canada with my friend and I got put in jail for drunk driving. Can you help me?”

“Well, you learned a lesson,” I thought. I now noticed his voice wasn’t right, but I am not used to talking with him on the phone, so that seemed a natural response.

However, as I finished saying the words, red lights started flashing. Scam. Scam. Scam.

The real grandson Jacob, 16, is at high school no doubt daydreaming of getting his license.

The voice pleaded, “Can you help me, Grandma? I’m in big trouble.” And then he added in a hushed voice, “Don’t tell anyone.”

That is when I decided to hang in there and see what happened.

My “grandson” went on to plead his case and expressed concern that I would tell his parents. Then he explained to me his “legal aid” would call me and give me all the details.

After I hung up, I went into action. I made a quick call to my son, Jacob’s father. We had a good laugh. Next, I checked 411 reversed phone number I found on our phone. No results. I called the Sheriff’s Department and a deputy returned my call. We discussed how the scam works. They receive about a complaint a week and are impossible to trace. I mentioned that I just might have a little sport with the “legal aid.” The deputy said, “Go for it.”

Sure enough, within minutes, I received a call from a gentleman who said he was Erich (with an H) Romowitzky of 411 Haman Avenue, St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada. He would be most happy to take care of Jacob’s problem. “I will need you to Western Union me $881.74. No, let me check again. Oh, it’s $881.84.” He made it sound so casual. “Are you able to do that?”

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