Alert: Grandparent Scam!

This is a true story.   It happened on Monday morning, July 18 to yours truly and  husband, B, Robert.  I’ll try to report it exactly as it unfolded.  The time frame is nine thirty a.m. to twelve thirty p.m.

Scene One: We are each in our office when the phone rings. I answer, “Hello”.  A voice replies “Hi Grand Ma”.   He is speaking more slowly than usual.  “Hi. Are you okay?”   “ There’s a problem and I’m embarrassed to tell you.”   “Wait a minute.  I want Grand Pop on the phone too.”

I call out, “Bob, pick up the phone. It’s one of the grandsons. There’s a problem.”   Back to the caller. “What has happened?”  He says, “ I was in my friend’s car and the police stopped us. They searched the car and found drugs.  We are in the police station.  I need bail and could only have one phone call.  So I called you.”  I answer.  “We will post the bail.”   He continues.   “Officer Voss wants to talk to you now.”    We do not talk to him again until three hours later.

Scene two: Officer Voss: “Is this Joyce Anderson? “  “Yes, Officer, and Robert Anderson is on the other line.  Is our grandson all right? He is a very responsible young man, highly educated.”   Voss replies, “He is sitting here in hand cuffs and I’m going to help you post the bail.  He will have a hearing with the judge who will decide if he will be charged.  He has had the drug test and it showed clear.  I’m going to help you so that he will have  no charge on his record.”

“Do you know what a gag rule is?  The judge has a gag rule in effect, meaning that you cannot tell anyone about this. This is very important.  No one!  Is that clear?” “Yes” we reply. “Okay, this is that you need to do.  The bail is two thousand dollars.  You need to go to the nearest C.V.S. store and purchase ITUNES cards.  They will have numbers on them.  I will call you in about half an hour to get the numbers and give them to the judge.  There is a time factor here. We have about three quarters of an hour.”  He gives us his cell phone number.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

After we hang up, we each feel and say this could be a scam.  We are very torn. This may be possible. But we agree that our grandson’s safety is our main concern.  We are both very stressed.  Bob goes to C.V.S. and purchases two $500. cards for one thousand dollars. C.V.S. has a new limit on the cards. Meanwhile, I try to reach our grandson’s  other grandmother,  and his step father and mother. None of them answer their telephones.

Officer Voss calls back  and Bob gives him the code of numbers and letters on two of the $500. cards.  I suggest I can go to C.V.S. and get the other two cards.  He says to call him when I come back.  We go together and I get the cards. The first are on American Express.  I put mine on Visa. When we return, we call Voss and give him the other two sets of numbers.

After we give him the numbers, I blurt out, “Officer Voss.  We have to know  where  you are holding our grandson.  Are you in North Jersey? What police station are you connected with?” He replies that I am threatening him, but says he will have the attorney call us to answer any questions we have.

We wait and in about ten minutes, a call comes. “This is David Weisman. I’m the attorney.  Your grandson is fine. He is not in hand cuffs.  He just had a bite to eat.  We will see the judge shortly and he should be released.  He has said he would testify against his friend.  We are in Wildwood (New Jersey)  and you will be able to pick him up here.  I’ll call you shortly.” (They both are very experienced in their roles.)

As soon as he hung up, Bob called every police station in Wildwood and no one had our grandson or knew an Officer Voss!!!.  We were sure it was a scam at this point.   I tore our address books apart looking for a cell phone number for our grandson. We always do emails with him.  I finally found his cell number.  Why  didn’t I look earlier? I don’t know.  It seems obvious now, but I was very stressed and kept calling his grandmother and  parents instead to find out where he was.

Scene three:  Bob dialed our grandson’s cell phone number and …. Hallelujah!…. he answered. “Hi Grand Pop. What’s up?”  “We’ve been trying to reach you.  Are you okay?”  “I’m fine. I’m home.What’s going on?”  We summed up the sorry tale and he was apoplectic.  “ I was an intern in the Justice Department for a while and know all about the Grandparents scam.  I’m so sorry this happened to you.  We will sue them to get back the money.”   We calmed him down and waited for the attorney to call us back.

Finale:  The fake attorney called back shortly and said, “I have good news and  bad news.  Your grandson will not be charged, the judge said.  And you will receive the bail money back.  But…before you pick  him up…… there is a fine, $1800.  You will have to go back to C.V.S. for the necessary cards.”

Bob took a deep breath and replied,  “ Mr. Weisman, or whatever your name is… you failed to learn that I am a mystery writer. I recognize fiction when I hear it.  We have been sure this was a scam.  I have just been talking to our grandson.  He is not in Wildwood. He is fine, safe in his home.” ………………………….And then, the line went dead.

Bob immediately contacted American Express and Visa to cancel payment on the cards.  They each were very cooperative.  The American Express official said, “This scam is going on all over the world! “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hillary Clinton Email Investigation Closed!

 

Attorney General Loretta Lynch officially closed the long F.B.I. Investigation  on July 6, after F.B.I. director, James Comey, reported that the bureau would not recommend any charges in Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information.  The Justice Department brought an end to a cloud that had been hanging over her presidential campaign for over a year since her use of a private server became known.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican  nominee,  has been calling Clinton,  “Crooked Hillary who should be in handcuffs”.  However,  Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. did not find any evidence that Secretary Clinton  intentionally sent or received classified information.   “Our judgment  is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” he said at a news conference on July 5.

Hillary Clinton has made clear that the use of a private server was “a mistake” and she would not make that choice again.  When she took office, she knew other Secretaries of State had used personal computers and chose to do the same. Colin Powell had described his use in one of his books.  Madelyn Albright and Condolezza Rice had also used private servers for some of their emails.  They were never questioned about this.  Of course, they never ran for President of The United States.

In her four years as Secretary of State, Clinton traveled to 112 countries and rebuilt the reputation of the United States around the world.  Our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,  launched during President George Bush’s years, had brought our reputation to a new low in Asia and North Africa, especially with Muslim nations.   She worked ceaselessly to better women’s and children’s  lives in the countries she visited.  She supported efforts to broker peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  She built the coalition among European countries through skillful diplomacy that led to the significant  Iran Nuclear Deal.

During  the disastrous attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Clinton worked tirelessly through the night, seeking help from all possible forces to assist our beleaguered ambassador and staff.  Their tragic deaths became the focus of Republican critics.  The House Select Benghazi Committee  was formed;   Secretary Clinton was sworn in and sat alone at a table facing the committee.   She answered hostile questions from Republican members with calm dignity,  referring to her notes at times for specific facts. Democratic members reviewed her actions aimed at saving Ambassador Stevens and his staff.  Most observers in the Press and the  public  concluded that she won the day with strong responses after a marathon  eleven- hour hearing.

After Director Comey held his press conference on Tuesday, July 6,  Donald Trump immediately tweeted that “The system is rigged” since she was not indicted on any criminal charge.  He was involved in a furor that had erupted when his campaign posted an ad with Clinton’s picture within a six pointed star placed against a sea of money.   Most critics recognized the Star of David that Jewish people in Europe  had to wear when the Nazis reigned.  Hillary Clinton is a Methodist, but that was not the point.  Trump insisted the star was a “sheriff’s star or any star.”  Objectors showed sheriff’s five stars with five points.  He refused to back away from the ad.

On Thursday, July 7, Director Comey appeared before the House Oversight Committee,  where the  Republican members unleashed a barrage of criticism of his decision.   They pounced on his words that Clinton and her team had been “extremely careless” in handing classified emails.  He went to great lengths to explain the two different legal statutes where  the F.B.I. could find “criminal” behavior.  One was “gross negligence” that he said had only been used once in 99 years and unsuccessfully.    The other was “intent”.  A person would have to have been intending to subvert the United States government. He stressed that  Secretary Clinton, who was not “sophisticated in internet technology”  did not display gross negligence.  He also said that It was  clear from her forthright testimony that there was  no intent involved in the relatively few errors found in 30,000 emails.  The  Republican members and Chairman Chaffetz were not satisfied.  However, Elijah Cummings, the Democratic leading member praised Director Comey and  the entire F.B.I.  investigators for their service.

By the end of the week,  other shocking events burst into the headlines and the minds of all Americans.  Two fatal shootings of black men by police , first in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and next in Minneapolis, Minnesota  overwhelmed the nation.  President Obama , who had flown to Warsaw for a meeting of NATO, spoke immediately about the terrible tragedies and the “American issue of black men being killed by police.” Peaceful protests took place  across the country.  Large crowds, black and white men and women in  New York, Washington, Chicago,  Atlanta, Seattle.   Next came the third awful news from Dallas Texas, an ambush of police who were working to control a huge protest: five officers killed and seven wounded.  One aggrieved army veteran had became a sniper to “avenge the deaths of black men by the police”.

The political campaigns contine to move forward.  The Republican Convention opens in Cleveland the week of July 18 followed by the Democratic Convention the week of July 25. There are still some Republicans who want to “ Dump Trump” at the convention.   In the Democratic race, Bernie Sanders has said he finally will endorse Hillary Clinton.  There is no doubt that this presidential race has become the most unusual contest most of us have ever witnessed.  There is agreement that Donald Trump is the most unlikely candidate ever  nominated by a major party.  He has a cohort of devoted followers who will not be swayed by any arguments or ads. They refuse to recognize his “racist” attacks on individuals (Judge Cruel) , groups (Mexicans)  or  the entire Muslim religion as dangerous in a prospective president.  We will find out in  November what the entire American electorate of women and men decides.  The latest Pew national poll in June gave Hillary Clinton a nine point lead over Donald Trump – 51 percent to 42 percent.