An 81-year-old Mahoning Township woman would have been scammed out of $4,600 on Monday had it not been for intervention from employees of two different business locations.
The unidentified woman received a call that her granddaughter had been arrested in the Dominican Republic and that she would need $4,600.
She withdrew the funds from her bank account, but because of other people refusing to help her send the money requested, she was spared the loss.
Eventually she contacted her granddaughter, who was not in the Dominican Republic nor was she arrested.
Mahoning Township Chief of Police Kenneth J. Barnes warned people to be aware of such scams.
He said, "This type of crime against our elderly senior citizens is beyond despicable. The brazenness and persistence of the individual who was calling the 81 year old female victim is just unbelievable and hard core."
Barnes said that the woman, residing on Blakeslee Boulevard Drive East, received a phone call at about 9:45 a.m. she received a phone call "from a girl who was talking real fast and was crying so much that she couldn't understand her."
The girl told the elderly woman, "It's your granddaughter. I'm in trouble. I need forty-six hundred dollars and I love you."
A person came on the phone who called himself Kevin Murray and stated he was a police officer in the Dominican Republic. Murray said the granddaughter was pulled over for a traffic violation and that they found drugs in her car.
The woman said Murray told her to go to Giant Market and send the money via Western Union.
The woman went to a bank, got the money, and then went to Giant at Carbon Plaza Mall. Barnes said management personnel at Giant told her she was being a scam victim and wouldn't let her send the funds.
She returned home and received another call from Murray, the police chief said. The elderly woman told the police chief that Murray asked if she sent the money. She responded, "No" and accused him of running a scam. He maintained his composure and denied the scam. He advised her to go to Rite-Aid in Lehighton to send the money "and that way your granddaughter will be home first thing in the morning."
The woman went to Rite-Aid. There employees got involved and refused to send the money. Like at Giant, they told her she was a scamming target.
She returned home and again the phone rang and it was Murray. She then told Murray, "This is a scam and I'm not sending it."
Murray asked her if the money was in a checking account or if she had cash. She said she had cash. Murray told her to go to Wal-Mart and send it by "Money Gram." The woman hung up on Murray.
She then made some phone calls and located her granddaughter, who informed her that she was not on vacation, all was fine, "and to call the police and report this."
Barnes commented, "The employees at both stores (Giant and Rite Aid) are to be highly commended for interceding on behalf of our 81-year-old senior. For in all likelihood, if they had not interceded, our victim would have been out $4,600. And thankfully the woman reported this event to us."
He also said if anyone has been the target of this type of scam, they should contact their local police as well as the office of the Attorney General.