A Coarsegold resident received a phone call from someone claiming to be her teen-aged grandson. He was crying as he told his grandmother that he had gone to a party, where he drank a little alcohol, and after leaving the party, had been in a car accident. The caller said he had gone to court, and the judge was willing to release him if he paid $4,500 on a pre-paid, money pak card, and that this money would be reimbursed by the insurance company within a week.
The probation officer, who identified himself as Walter Case, then got on the phone asking for grandmother’s email address so that his secretary could send her a copy of the police report, the court order, and directions to where she could pick her grandson up in Fresno. (Even though the probation officer was calling from Fresno, the return number he gave out had a Northern California area code).
Believing this story to be true, that her 17-year-old grandson was indeed in trouble, grandmother first contacted her son, after hanging up the phone. Her son told her that her grandson was fine, and that he had not been in any kind of accident.
She then contacted Madera County Sheriff’s Department, who told her not to send any money, that there was nothing they could do, and that she needed to get the word out. She also contacted Sierra Tel, who guessed that these scammers could be targeting widows and widowers.
About 90 minutes after she had last spoken with the scammer, she received a second call asking if she had any problems getting the money together. Grandmother advised him that instead she had spoken with her family, the sheriff's department, and the newspaper, and knew that she had been lied to.
The caller immediately hung up on her.