Scammers have reached a new low. They selected a grandson in the Marine Corps to impersonate. While he was being decorated for his service in Germany, they contacted his grandfather and told him that he was in legal trouble. One of the scammers went by the name of Sergeant Eric Matthews. The other person impersonated the grandson and was quite convincing. He apparently studied the grandson’s bio extensively and played along with being a Marine, stationed in Germany, and had quite the story about how he got in trouble.
He told the grandfather that he had won a ticket for a trip to Mexico and went there along with 3 others. He was on furlough and found in possession of marijuana, as the others were too. The authorities arrested him, and $1250 was needed for bail. Naturally, he was deeply embarrassed about being caught and asked that he not tell his mom or dad. He needed the money and promised to pay it back, just as soon as he could. The grandfather dutifully sent it.
Interestingly enough, the grandson didn’t actually go to prison. He was sent to the US Embassy because of being in the military yet still required bail money. Another person spoke to the grandfather on the grandson’s behalf, Sergeant Eric Matthews. He talked to the grandfather on two different occasions, after the initial communication with the grandson. Phone numbers called from were from Georgia and Canada; no Mexican phone number was ever called from or given out, although supposedly that’s where the grandson was and where money was being sent to.
Once the money was received, another call was made to the grandfather. This time, $1000 was requested, and he was told that if this wasn’t received, he would have to perform 45 hours of community service. This time, the grandfather thought twice and asked the grandson what his middle name was. Surprised he said, “Grandpa, you know my middle name.” To this he responded, “Yes, but do you?” There was no reply, and the call was abruptly ended.
Fortunately, the grandfather had caught on to the scheme but not in time to retrieve the initial $1250 that was sent. He did report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission, which partners with other governments from around the world to combat scams. We hope that the grandfather and others similarly conned get their money back, but these types of cons are so pervasive that it is a vast undertaking trying to keep up with them.
Should you experience this or similar problems, please take the time to report it to us. That way, we can get the word out to those in the military and civilians that these scams are taking place and that scammers are digging up lots of personal information to go about their business of ripping others off. Be a part of the solution and not the problem. Report your story to consumer protection agencies (FTC, Attorney General, Better Business Bureau, etc.) today!
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