Taking advantage of love

Her voice sounded authentic, youthful, soft-spoken, and anxious. She called Betsy “Gramma,” the way she usually addressed her grandmother. She said she was in New York where she had been arrested and charged with driving under the influence. She needs $1,050 in bail, or else she will be put in jail. She said had been drinking with friends and was driving when she was pulled over and charged with DUI.

Then a man claiming to be a defense attorney got on the phone to explain how to send the money, and to whom.

Betsy awoke me from my nap to tell me all of this. Immediately we tried phoning her mother, our daughter, to confirm that our granddaughter was in New York, but couldn’t get through so we left an urgent message on her voice mail. What was our granddaughter doing in New York in the first place? We didn’t trust this. It could be a scam. But what if it isn’t? What if the kid really is in trouble in New York and needs our help?

Still doubtful, we nevertheless hurried to a nearby supermarket where we could send a Western Union money order and had just completed that transaction, charging the bail amount to our debit card, when our our cell phone rang. It was our daughter. “It’s a scam,” she said. “Don’t send any money to anyone!”  Fortunately, we were able to act swiftly and cancel the Western Union transaction.

We had been back at home for only a few minutes when our phone rang. It was the woman who earlier had identified herself as the New York public defender’s assistant. She wanted to know whether we had sent the money yet.

“We haven’t,” I told her. “We’re just trying to figure out how to prosecute you because we know this is a scam.”  She hung up.

We do try to be careful, and think we’re smart about these things, but this time, this one nearly caught us. It could have cost us more than $1,000, which we can’t afford. How sad that we all must be wary of predators willing to take advantage of our love instincts.

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