American seniors have become the target of many scammers since the pandemic began. In fact, the FBI said the elderly were scammed for $1 billion in 2020, up from $300 million the year before.
To stay connected with loved ones while isolated, more elderly people have joined social media, exposing them to fraudsters.
“The combination of online shopping and social media creates easy venues for scammers to post false advertisements,” said an FBI report.
“Many victims report ordering items from links advertised on social media and either receiving nothing at all or receiving something completely unlike the advertised item.”
Jean Ebbert, 73, of Long Island, New York, was also targeted by scammers, but they had no idea who they were dealing with. This woman is a law enforcement veteran—a former 911 dispatcher, to be exact—so she knows exactly what a scam looks like.
Jean was texting with her son when someone claiming to be her grandson called her. The man said he was arrested for DUI and was sent to jail.
The problem was that Jean doesn’t have a grandson old enough to drive. That’s when she knew she was being conned.
“I knew he was a real scammer. I just knew he wasn’t going to scam me,” she told CBS News. “It took about three hours of back-and-forth phone calls, maybe 15 phone calls.”
Jean decided to play along with the swindler despite her family’s objections.
The con man took the lie even further by hiring another man to pose as Jean’s fake grandson’s lawyer, who told her he needed $8,000 in bail money.
“I told him I had the money in the house, and I figured, he’s not going to fall for that. Well, he fell for that hook, line, and sinker,” Jean said.
Meanwhile, the grandma of seven also called the police.
When a man showed up at her door claiming to be a bail bondsman, Jean handed him an envelope containing paper towels. Waiting police officers then sprang into action and arrested him right then and there.
The criminal was identified as Joshua Gomez from New York. He was charged with attempted grand larceny in the third degree.
Jean says her 911 training taught her how to deal with situations like this.
“You have to think quick. You have to be able to multitask. I had to come up with why I had money in the house,” she explained.
Local authorities are using the incident to remind citizens that scams against American seniors are happening now more than ever.
“Speak to your families. Speak to your neighbors. Visit those that are vulnerable. Let them know, don’t listen to these scams. These individuals sit at home and have nothing else to do but think of a way to take advantage of our elderly,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
Jean also believes the elderly should be more careful about the people they’re talking to. She hopes her story serves as a cautionary tale for others.
“I feel like gotcha, and I feel like, like you say, so many people fall for this and you only hear about it on the other end after they’ve lost $8,000,” she said.
Although catching a criminal can surely give you a great sense of accomplishment, it’s still best to leave this dangerous job to law enforcement professionals. If you suspect a scammer, make sure to call the police and don’t arrange a rendezvous.
Kudos to this granda for outsmarting these thieves! Check out the video below to learn more about this story.
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