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Watchdog: Moulton grandmother avoids popular scam

April 27, 2010 at 5:01 p.m.
Updated April 26, 2010 at 11:27 p.m.


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To submit questions, e-mail watchdog@vicad.com, post them to the "Watchdog" blog or call Advocate Public Service Editor Gabe Semenza at 361-580-6519. No topic is off-limits.

Minnie Lee Fisbeck said she would do anything for her grandson. This unconditional love almost cost her $2,400.

Fisbeck, a 77-year-old Moulton grandparent, avoided at the last minute a con police call the "Grandson Scam."

Fisbeck received a phone call from a young man who posed as her grandson.

The man said he was in a Canadian jail after drinking with a friend, driving and hitting a deer.

"Don't tell mom and dad. They'll get upset," he told the grandmother. "I'll tell them when I get home."

The scam artist then told Fisbeck a Canadian lawyer would call her with details about how and where to send him $2,400, the amount he said he needed for bail.

"If my real grandson would have listened to a recording of that, he would have sworn it was himself," Fisbeck said. "It sounded just like him."

The so-called lawyer was polite, helpful and eager to direct her to the nearest money wiring service, which is located inside a Flatonia restaurant, the grandmother said.

Before leaving Moulton, worry prompted Fishbeck to contact her son, the grandson's father.

The two traveled together toward Flatonia, but the more the father learned the more he questioned the story's legitimacy.

The two then contacted the real grandson, turned the car around and called police. The real grandson was not in jail and Fishbeck avoided sending $2,400 to a scam artist.

"All senior citizens: Beware. If someone calls as your grandson, make sure you call relatives prior to sending any money," said Moulton Police Chief Mark Zimmerman. "This is a popular scam going around. If something like this happens to you, call your local law enforcement before you lose your money."

Victoria Police Sgt. Felix Appelt reinforced Zimmerman's message.

"The best thing to do with any phone call that solicits funds is to check the validity of the source before sending money," Appelt said. "Even school with programs ... call the school and see if the fundraiser is valid before giving money to possible students. Be your own best detective."

The Victoria Crime Prevention Unit substation, located between Sears and Chic-Fil-A at Victoria Mall, offers information about local scams and how to prevent other crimes.

Fishbeck almost learned the hard way that scam artists can be deceptively believable.

"You just cannot be careful enough," she said. "When you hear somebody who sounds just like your grandson, what do you do? Check it out just like we did before you send any money."

Gabe Semenza is the Public Service Editor for the Advocate. Comment on this story at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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