One tough New York grandma was fed-up with scammers who take advantage of the elderly. So, when a swindler called her on the phone, she laid a trap for the unsuspecting thief, and it was all captured on video.
A would-be phone scammer, who was apparently targeting elderly people, met his match when he tried to scam one New York grandmother, who happened to be a former 911 dispatcher named Jean Ebbert. The 73-year-old woman received an odd call from a man, claiming to be her grandson, saying he was in jail for DUI and needed $8,000 cash right away.
Ebbert told Fox News she knew that she didn’t have a grandson who was old enough to drive, so she knew it was a scam but decided to keep playing along anyway despite her family members telling her to hang up. “My son was like ‘hang up ma’ and I’m thinking you’re 40 years old I’m 73 and you’re telling me to hang up?” Ebbert recalled. “And I didn’t hang up. I usually hang up.”
Ebbert eventually spoke to another man on the phone who claimed to be her grandson’s lawyer and asked to come to the house to collect the bail money. Jean calmly told the man she had the funds on hand and gave him her address. Meanwhile, the tough-as-nails granny called up the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department and reported what was going on.
Nassau County officers arrived at Jean’s house, and while interviewing her about the scam calls, another call came in from the supposed bail bondsman, WABC reported. “Apparently they thought they had the big fish,” Ebbert said. “They actually thought I was gonna give them money.” According to Fox News, when the man showed up at Jean’s house, she handed him an empty envelope full of paper towels. That’s when the police pounced on the scammer, who was later identified as Joshua Estrella Gomez of Mineola, New York. Gomez was quite surprised as he was hauled away in handcuffs, and charged with attempted grand larceny in the third degree.
This is what law enforcement refers to as a “grandparent scam.” While elderly people being targeted by scammers is nothing new, the targeting of elderly people by those pretending to be jailed loved ones is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Federal Trade Commission began highlighting the proliferation of this type of scam back in 2018, even creating a video to help educate people about how they work.
The Department of Justice announced the arrest of six people as part of a racketeering investigation into a nationwide network of people who used similar scams to swindle more than $2 million out of more than 70 elderly people. However, in this case, the Seaford woman who was targeted wasn’t fooled. “I knew he was a real scammer,” Jean told CBS WLNY. “I just knew he wasn’t going to scam me.”
What tipped Jean off was that the man who called her claiming to be her grandson said that he was in jail after a car accident and had been charged with driving under the influence, which this grandma knew was impossible. However, many elderly citizens may be duped by this scam, especially those who suffer from dementia.
“She’s smart enough to call out and reach out to the police department and say, ‘I think I’m being taken advantage of,’” Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder told reporters at a press conference, according to WABC. “Speak to your families. Speak to your neighbors. Visit those that are vulnerable. Let them know, don’t listen to these scams,” Ryder warned. “These individuals sit at home and have nothing else to do but think of a way to take advantage of our elderly.”