…you grip the phone tighter, sit down, and your heart sinks past your feet to the floor. You listen for more information. It comes flying fast at you, leaving you no time to ask many questions.
She was at a funeral and had a glass of wine…
got into an accident…
She has a broken nose and is drunk…
She is in jail…
“I’m her lawyer”, and in the background you can hear your daughter crying, ‘my nose is broken!”.
So shocked beyond belief, worried sick, the ‘lawyer’ says ‘I need money for bail. Can you go to the courthouse?’ Despite your confusion, you try to explain that you can’t get the money to the courthouse – it is 2.5 hours away and you can’t get there until the next morning, Friday. Undeterred, the caller continues, now putting your ‘daughter’ crying on the phone. Your ‘daughter’ has no answers, she is in hysterics, crying about her broken nose, and how she’s ‘sorry’.
The ‘lawyer’ comes back on the line – more pressure to get to the courthouse… You make a mistake, name your daughter, and then they begin to refer to her by name, Tara.
You say, “Well, call her husband. He is closer to a courthouse.”
The ‘lawyer’ says ‘No, she’s afraid to, he is going to abuse her.”
Now you are getting a little confused. This is starting to sound wrong.
The conversation continues, a litany of ‘she’s drunk, needs bail, broken nose, crying in the background’. Concerned, you say to your husband “I’m going to call her work.”. Probably because he wasn’t on the phone, being distracted by all the crying by the ‘daughter’, your husband asks, “Is this a scam?” Strangely, they were put on hold, and then hung up on.
This is a true story. I’m not sharing their names, but Joan was very concerned that someone might actually fall for this scam – and be out a lot of money. If Joan hadn’t said that she was going to call her daughter’s place of work, she believes that would have continued to pressure her for the money to get her daughter out of jail, perhaps had to pay a substantial lawyer’s fee to do that…
Joan was lucky, very lucky.
There were many clues that something was wrong.
- they never actually spoke her daughter’s name.
- when her ‘daughter’ spoke to her it was not how she usually referred to her, Mom, Mommy, Mother.
- her husband would abuse her…
Joan was lucky, not many are. This scam has gotten many to send money for their children, grandchildren who are in trouble. The scammers are slick, and tug at your heartstrings, getting you upset – so you don’t question the story, and agree to send money.
If you should get a call like this, be smart. Ask them to identify your child/grandchild; name, birthdate. Remember that your daughter usually refers to you as Mom, not mother, or mommy. Maybe even set up that if they are ever in trouble, they call you by Mama, or stomething else you decide upon.
If you get caught up in this type scam, follow the below steps provided by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Step 1: Gather all information about the fraud. This includes documents, receipts, copies of emails and/or text messages.
Step 2: Report the incident to your local law enforcement. This ensures that your police of jurisdiction is aware of what scams are targeting their residents and businesses. Keep a log of all your calls and record all file or occurrence numbers.
Step 3: Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll free at 1-888-495-8501 or through the Fraud Reporting System (FRS).
Step 4: Report the incident to the financial institution where the money was sent (e.g., money service business such as Western Union or MoneyGram, bank or credit union, credit card company or internet payment service provider).
Step 5: If the fraud took place online through Facebook, eBay, a classified ad such as Kijiji or a dating website, be sure to report the incident directly to the website. These details can be found under “report abuse” or “report an ad.”