Vancouver News | Local Breaking | CTV News Vancouver
Seniors duped by scammer posing as grandson
A pair of B.C. seniors say they feel violated after giving thousands of dollars to a scam artist who posed as their grandson over the phone and pretended to be in dire need.
For Marie and Bill Lawrence, the nightmare began with a phone call from someone claiming to be their son Levi in Montreal.
"He said, ‘Well, I was in a car accident and I'm in lockup, and I'm in a lot of trouble, grandma.'" Marie said.
The caller said he needed thousands of dollars to pay for his lawyer, his destroyed rental car and a plane ticket home to B.C.
"He said, ‘Yeah, grandma, please don't tell anybody. I'm really embarrassed and I just don't want anybody to know.'"
"I would swear on a bible in a court of law that it was our grandson."
The couple went to Western Union and sent almost $12,000.
And they aren't the only victims. In fact, their next door neighbour got a similar call the exact same day the Lawrences did.
Fortunately, the neighbour realized it wasn't his grandson on the phone and hung up.
This summer, 91-year-old Juliette Swanson lost $4,600 in a similar scam when a swindler posed as her grandson Kurt and claimed to be in trouble.
Elder abuse is not uncommon. About one in 12 seniors has suffered a loss of $20,000 or more – but police say the latest cases are disturbing because the scammers posed as relatives.
They say social networking may be to blame.
Police are still investigating the Lawrences' case, but admit finding the person responsible is difficult, especially since the transaction was in cash. The couple told CTV News they just don't want it to happen to anybody else.
"I just think it's disgusting we live in a world where that happens so frequently," Bill said.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Norma Reid