So it’s been, what, close to five years since I wrote anything here? In the meantime, look what WordPress has done to me. Mucked up my poor blog with ads for things I know virtually nothing about. I should have been paying better attention. I will have to do something about that eventually.
Right now I want to make a confession. Well, I don’t want to. It isn’t an easy thing to tell. Nevertheless, here I am – a sorry example to all humankind. See what I did? DON’T DO THIS.
With that, taking my bruised ego in hand, I admit that I have been the victim of a sleazy, pathetic, ludicrous telephone scam – and am $7,500 poorer because of it.
I don’t usually pick up phone calls when the Caller ID shows an unfamiliar number. Last Thursday morning, however, I was expecting a call from the plumber letting me know he was on the way. I picked up; it was not the plumber. On the line was a teenage boy in tears: “Grandma?” “[Grandson’s name]?” I said, “Is everything okay?” No, everything was not okay. He said he’d been driving a friend’s car, had had an accident, and was being held by the police. A public defender would be calling me shortly. He gave me the man’s name (“William Hale,” let’s get it right out there) and a case number. My (real) grandson does not yet have a drivers’ license. He begged me not to tell his parents; he just wanted to get home and tell them what had happened himself.
Why, you ask, did I fall for such a blatant fraud? I’ll get to that.
This is not a new, brilliant or particularly subtle scheme for fleecing the unwary. I first heard of it several years ago. Appalling, I thought then. Thank God I’m not that gullible.
And I’m not. I am a profoundly cynical, notoriously suspicious woman. Trust not the silver-tongued telephone solicitor! That’s my creed. Or it was. Also, I know my grandkids. I know their inclinations and their voices. I don’t see them just once or twice a year, I see them regularly.
What’s more, if you knew my grandson, you would never fall for such a cockamamie story. He’s a great kid, wonderful really. (I could be a little biased.) But anyone, I thought, and certainly fuzzy-brained teenagers, can make a mistake. That’s what I told him: “We’ve all made mistakes, honey.” I actually said that. To this little, conniving bastard. God help me.
What happened next:
Fake-grandson’s phone call was quickly followed by a plethora of calls from “Mr. Hale,” the kindly public defender, who was doing his damnedest to keep this offense off fake-grandson’s record. He pleaded first-offender status, he got the authorities to hold fake-grandson in the infirmary instead of a cell (because of the broken nose and split lip sustained in the accident, you see), and talked the judge into releasing him that day, provided Someone was willing to pay his bond. $7,500. In cash. Right now. Urgent! Urgent! Urgent!
Someone would be me. I went directly to the bank (not forgetting to leave a note for the plumber), withdrew the cash, drove to a specific Wells Fargo ATM (in a local convenience store), and like some witless zombie grandma, entered the access and pin numbers he fed me, followed by all that dough. Cash transaction. Untraceable.
So did they then release him? My beleaguered grandson, languishing in the infirmary but capable of being moved to a general-population cell with hardened criminals at any moment? Of course not. The judge was backed up. So many cases, so many delays. Maybe the good Mr. Hale could have him released by that evening (or certainly by the next morning). Stand by, zombie grandma! And not to worry about fake-grandson’s parents, who surely would be asking questions by then, because fake-grandson had called them offering wholly believable excuses for his prolonged absence.
Oh, there were red flags all over the place. “That can’t be right,” I thought, more than once. But here’s the thing: the very first phone call I got was from my would-be grandson. I knew it was him. I swear to you it was his voice I heard on the phone. And I knew that my good, mostly rule-following grandson would never do such a thing to me.
Enough. I’ve told my sordid tale. I’ve called the police. Perhaps now my wandering mind can rest. Or not.
Pride goeth before a fall, you know. That’s really all I can tell you.