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! “