Retirement Life

The phone scam that cost this 78-year-old $5000

The phone scam that cost this 78-year-old $5000

A 78-year-old man from Midland was scammed out of $5,000 after a scam phone call convinced him his nephew was in life threatening danger.

Larry told Midland Daily he was swept up in a massive storm after an elaborate phone call claiming to be his sister said his nephew was in danger.

He was told his sibling had received a call saying her son had been in a car accident that had left a woman and her child seriously injured.

She told Larry that “Ryan” was asking for $15,000 to go towards a bond of $150,000 – although any amount of money would suffice.

This phone call however, was a scam that is not all that uncommon, Midland Police Sgt, Chris Wenzell told Midland Daily.

These “robo calls” can be near impossible to track because most of the time, these fraudulent calls are coming from outside of the country, he said.

The worst part is, perpetrators target older adults due them being more “trustworthy,” Wenzell said.  

“It's very troubling,” the sergeant said.

“Because I think initially, (phone scams) were specifically geared toward the senior population. And what you see is, kind of a generation of individuals who are very trusting.

“And if somebody said something, you took their word for it. So, there's a lot of believability to the person they're talking to on the other end.”

The phone call left Larry sceptical at first, he said after he questioned why his sister would ask him first and why Ryan’s wife wasn’t taking care of the money.

“In the meantime, you're all shook up, thinking about how to get him out (of jail),” Larry explained.

The 78-year-old said he then received a phone call from his “nephew” and his “lawyer” claiming the money would help him.

“That should have been a red flag,” Larry said but said the phone caller sounded exactly like Ryan.

To make the elaborate lie sound even more believable, the scammer mentioned Ryan’s trip to China.

“We can’t even figure out how they got that information,” Larry said.

“But that was another nail to convince me that it was him talking.”

During the conversation, the men on the phone convinced Larry to send $5,000 electronically, however the Midland man explained to the media that he was not familiar with the online technology.

Instead, the caller offered a simple solution: Go to the nearest Home Depot and purchase five $1,000 gift cards.

While many are aware no legitimate businesses ask for gift cards as a form of payment, scammers make it sound so believable that people trust it, Larry said.

After Larry completed the request and re-read the numbers on the gift cards over to the phone callers, they informed him he will call within the next day. The 78-year-old soon found out the whole event was a scheme to steal money.

Sgt. Wenzell warns those who may receive calls such as these is to know places like Home Depot, Apple Music and Walmart are easy ways to get money from unsuspecting people as any cash placed on them can quickly be taken off of them.

“The moment (the scammers) receive those numbers that are associated with (the cards), that is immediate money,” he said.

“They are immediately using those and there's not a thing you can do.”

SEE MORE: How to outsmart the scammers.

To file a report with the FTC, call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or go online at ftc.gov.

To add your phone number to the FTC's National Do Not Call Registry call 1-888-382-1222 or visit www.donotcall.gov