A Clovis woman who was conned out of her life savings sat down with the Clovis Roundup for an interview. The victim, who doesn’t want her identity revealed, is embarrassed that she allowed herself to be taken advantage of and wants to share her story to help prevent others from falling victim.
The 91-year-old is an independent senior. She lives alone and is fully in charge of her daily life. She says if this could happen to her, it could happen to anyone.
The crime took place in October, over a three-day period. The scam happened through a series of elaborate phone calls, that resulted in the victim forking over 70 thousand dollars.
The first call came from a man claiming to be the victim’s son. He was calling from an unrecognized number. The explanation was that his phone had been broken. He said that he was ill and going to the doctor. The victim tells the Clovis Roundup that the man sounded like her son, who lives in Southern California, but a bit hoarse. When she asked what was wrong with his voice, he said that he had a sore throat and would call her back soon. She never doubted that she was speaking with her son.
10 minutes later, the man called back in a panic. He said that while leaving the doctor’s office, he bumped his car into a woman. He said he was being accused of distracted driving and reckless endangerment.
The scammer told the woman not to tell anyone what happened because he could lose his license and job. He also said that he was being taken to the police station.
Her “son” told her he was contacting a friend who was an attorney named “Bernard”. During the next call he handed over the phone to his attorney friend. “Bernard” said that he was representing her “son” and that money was needed to pay off the woman her son backed into.
First, she was asked to send $9,000 to make everything go away. After this the demands continued. $10,000 followed by $50,000. Once she had sent every dollar she had access to, they told her to max out her credit card with Walmart gift cards.
The imposter assured her that once he was released he would get the cash to repay her and refund her when he visited Clovis that weekend.
When the victim’s actual son came to Clovis that weekend he had no idea what his mom was talking about when she asked him for her money. Right away she and her son realized that she had been scammed.
Police say this type of scam happens far too often. Tracking down the scammers is difficult. In most cases once the money’s gone, there’s no way to get it back.
The victim tells the Clovis Roundup that her son doesn’t blame her for going along with the scammers. Her children said they’d help her out financially and that she should focus on what she still has. Her health, her sons, her home and all the other things that they were not able to take from her.