It Sucks to Be Scammed

I’m heartbroken and I’m pissed!

My dear sweet mother lost her entire life savings this week to what the FBI refers to as “The Grandparent Scam.”

Here’s her story…

Yesterday morning my mother called me while I was at work at Community Care College.  She frantically told me that Ronnie, my 23 year old son, was in jail.  He had been in a very serious accident and damaged public property. She stated that he was scared to call me (I wouldn’t understand and would be mad),  so he called her for help instead.  She was working with an “attorney” along with the Attorney General of the state of Virginia.

I told her that she has to be mistaken.  Ronnie and I had dinner the night before.  He was at work this very minute.  She said that the attorney let him talk to her.  Although the connection was bad and it was difficult to understand; it was obvious to her that he was as she described “in a very bad way.”  Her grandson was crying, in severe pain, and was having a nervous breakdown. A medical professional got on the phone and confirmed his serious condition.  He begged her to get him out of jail, that he’d pay the money back but under any circumstance, do not tell “mom.”

Between Monday and Wednesday, the day of the call, my 79 year old Mother sent 4 payments totaling a little over $7,000 through a service called MoneyGram located in Wal-mart.   She was very stressed out and physically sick and was out of cash.  You see, she and Ronnie are very close and the thought of him suffering in this fashion was more than she could handle.

She gave me the alleged attorney’s number and I called.  As we were on the phone, I pulled up the phone number online and it was from Montreal, Canada.  He explained that Ronnie had been in jail for 3 days in Virginia.  It was serious and we had to send money immediately.  Since I had enjoyed Ronnie’s company less than 24 hours earlier, I knew something was seriously wrong. He transferred me to the supposed Attorney General.  Once he figured out that I was not buying the story, he hung up.  I called Ronnie (just to ease my mind since my Mom was insistent she talked to him) and he was at work safe and sound at Clary Sage Salon & Spa.  Within 2 minutes I called the number back, and it was already disconnected.

I won’t go into details of the pain, sickness, and humiliation my mother feels at this time.   Despite all of these emotions; however, she is extremely relieved that Ronnie is safe and is not suffering in jail.

My mom has an income of $400 per month.  It took her over 20 years to save this type of money.  She cares for and has dedicated her life to  my handipcapped brother, Stephen, who has Cerebral Palsy.  She is now completely broke.  In her case, she has a family that she can turn to.  She will make it and she will be fine.  She is one of the lucky ones. What about all of the thousands of seniors that are manipulated with this scam and have no family to turn to?

MONEYGRAM IS A VEHICLE FOR THIS TYPE OF SICK FRAUD.  If they would have asked for basic information, just a tiny bit of due diligence, this could have been prevented.  Their agents get paid on commission.  Yes; my mom should have known better.  Yes, my mom should have called me.  Yes, my mom should be computer saavy and should have looked this up.  But my mom was victimized…taken advantage of using the lowest form of heart ripping, oscar-worthy, fraud.

I called MoneyGram immediately and requested the Fraud Department.  The agent told me that there is nothing that can be done and that my Mom should have gone online to read the terms and conditions of sending money….my dear Mother who has never used the Internet in her life.  I said I wanted to file a claim.   She said that I can notify the police.  I went ahead and filed a report with the Tulsa Police Department. I then did a little research and quickly discovered that this particular scam has been going on for years.  It is listed on the FBI’s website and has been written about in numerous publications.  Google “Grandparent Scam.”

I called again today to speak to a “higher up” in the Fraud department of Moneygram.  I asked if they had some sort of insurance for this type of situation.  Very rudely; she stated that they never refund money and that my Mom should have read the fine print that is very clear on their website  Come on!  No sorry?  No…”I wish this would not have happened?”  No sympathy?  No heart?

MoneyGram International Inc., whose headquarters are in Dallas, operates through a network of 275,000 locations in 190 countries.  Three months ago, the company settled a 100 million dollar suit for facilitating and encouraging such fraud. Did they learn anything?  Or is the case of the Pinto where it is more cost effective to settle when a lawsuit occurs versus being committed to excellence and continuous improvement?

“MoneyGram’s broken corporate culture led the company to privilege profits over everything else,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer  of the Justice Department said in a news release.  “MoneyGram knowingly turned a blind eye to scam artists and money launderers who used the company to perpetrate fraudulent schemes targeting the elderly and other vulnerable victims.”

This is the type of greedy company that gives corporations a bad name.  The CEO and Chairwoman,  Pamela Patsley, held the No. 1 position of highest paid female executive in the nation.  But the company doesn’t have a victim recovery fund?  But the company doesn’t have enough money to invest in training and systems to prevent fraud or at least help employees identify it?

I am very angry.  I’m so mad and I want answers but I am not able to get any.  Tomorrow do I say we are smarter and better for this?  A hard lesson learned but time to move on?

Am I overreacting?  I mean it’s my mom, you know??  I don’t have any answers.  All I know is that the nicest and kindest woman you will ever meet cried like I have never seen before and is suffering with physical and mental anguish and I want to freakin’ rip some guys head off.

Posted in


  1. Millie Grams on April 10, 2013 at 8:42 am

    So sad for your sweet grandma. No words can describe the anger I feel when hearing stories like this. These people are truly heartless! Taking advantage of seniors/children/women is the lowest of lows. Hope your grandma can get over this! May God grant her peace. Thankful she has family to help/encourage her.

    • admin on April 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      Thank you for your comment, Millie. Means a lot!

  2. Jane Malcolm on April 10, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    You may also want to contact the state Attorney General. If enough people in the state report a scam, they may take action, as the PA AG did. I would also contact the Federal Trade Commission’s fraud unit.

    • admin on April 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Thank you for the advice, Jane!

Leave a Comment