NBC 10 I-Team: ‘Grandparent Scam’ targets elderly
A frantic phone came into the home of Denise Toomey’s 83-year-old mother law two weeks ago.
Toomey took the phone.
The man on the other end said he was a public defender and that her nephew was locked up in jail.
“He was arrested, he was in a fight, had a broken nose, stitches in his mouth,” said Toomey.
The so-called lawyer needed cash and quickly before court closed for the day. He suggested a Walmart to Walmart money transfer.
“He said it was for bail money,” Toomey said.
Feeling ill and fighting pneumonia, Toomey second-guessed the process, but still went ahead with the money transfer.
“Long story short, I fell for it. I paid the money out,” Toomey said, also noting that $2,325 was transferred from a Walmart near her home in Saugus, Massachusetts and picked up 80 miles away at the Walmart in North Kingstown. “I called him back and asked, ‘Where’s my nephew?’ He said, ‘Oh we need more money.’ Then, I caught that he had a New York accent, and I said, ‘You got me, didn't you?’ He laughed at me and he hung up.”
Toomey called the cops, with detectives getting the surveillance footage from Walmart.
In the video, the suspect is seen picking up Toomey's money by using some type of fake ID with her nephew's name.
He’s a man, between 30 and 40 years old, wearing a greenish gray sweat suit. He also has a distinctive thick chin strap type beard.
“The people making these phone calls are playing on a family member in need of help and that's what throws people off and makes people let their guard down,” said North Kingstown Police Detective Gregory Miga, who’s working this case and another wire transfer scam in town. “I would encourage everybody to ask lots of questions if they get one of these phone calls. Don't just send money off. Slow it down, really think about this and ask for other opinions, including local police departments if you have to.”
As for Toomey, she’s still left with a gaping hole in her savings account.
“It's awful. I haven't really slept. I'm sick over it,” she said. “I just jumped on it and got scammed.”
Anyone with information on the identity of this suspect is asked to call North Kingstown Police Department at 401-294-3311 and ask for Detective Gregory Miga.