Friday, January 27, 2012


“Hi Grandma. How are you?” I recognized the voice of our teen-age grandson. It was the right time (6:00 p.m.), and the right occasion (Mike’s birthday). I jumped right in with his name and some small talk.

Then again, when I heard, “Hi Grandma, Howyadoin’?” when I picked up the phone at 10:00 a.m., I was immediately on guard. I gauged the voice to be that of a young man.

“I’m fine,” I said, giving myself a nano-second to think.  My mind immediately scanned through the grandchildren and came up negative. The wrong age, the wrong time, the wrong voice. “Who is this?” I asked.

“It’s your oldest grandson,” he replied matter-of-factly with a smile in his voice.

“Doesn’t sound right,” I said. And with that, he hung up. (Do we still hang up? Or do we disconnect or power off or some other term?)

There’s a scam out there – we’ve known about it for years – that targets lonely elderly women. (I certainly don’t fit that profile, so I’m really kinda insulted that these calls occasionally find me.) The caller pretends to be your grandchild and takes a chance that you’ll jump to conclusions and feed him the info he needs, such as his name. If the scammer succeeds in getting your ear, he eventually asks for money – or sometimes other things, but we won’t go into that.

I’m sure it’s desirable not to linger on the line with these scammers, but I found myself thinking of things I wish I’d said.

“What! But we buried you yesterday. Ohhhhh --- I think I’m going to faint . . .” Thunk!

“I suppose you want more money. What did you do with the ten thousand I gave you last week?”

The first time I received one these scam calls was about ten years ago. A female trying to sound like a child said, “Hello Grandma?”

“I’m not your grandma,” I replied.

“How do you know?” she asked.

“My grandchildren are very young,” I explained, “and you aren’t a child.”

She swore at me as she hung up, but I wasn’t too upset. She had failed.

But, you know – I have to reserve a little place for caution. When Clint was in junior high, he had good news of some sort and Mike suggested he call Grandma Bennie.

“Hello, Grandma,” he began.
“I’m not your grandma,” she said – and hung up. KW


Leah said...

The same scam has hit my town, a Seniors only city, with many grandmas & grandpas. The caller asks grandma for money to be wired by Western Union to a far off city because he's in jail. In one instance a couple of years ago, a woman wired money (several hundred or thousand $) and THEN called her son or grandson to ask about the young man. She had wired the money to some jerk who was hoping Grandma would be put off guard. By the time it was reported to the Sheriff, the man and her money were long gone.

One reason that this ploy works is that people of an older generation can't hang up on a caller because they feel it's impolite. They get sucked into a conversation about the problems of a family member and they can't hang up.

Another sad reason that older people can't hang up is they think that people are basically good. That admirable character trait often leads to trouble.

Personally, I have no problem hanging up on a call soliciting anything or any cause. The phone is for my convenience, not the caller's. I don't feel I owe the caller an explanation as to why I don't want to engage in a conversation that 99 times out of 100 will have no benefit for me. They get a "No thank you." and I hang up.

If I received a phone call from a young man claiming to be my grandson, I'd know it was a fraud. My grandsons NEVER call me.

Kathy said...

People "of an older generation" were also taught that when the phone rings, you must answer it. Today some people have learned to be more selective and screen calls. And Mike and I have noted that some folks neither answer the phone nor return messages. Our attitudes are changing.

Well, Leah, at least the grandsons are not asking you for money.

Leah said...

I remember a phone call many years ago from my daughter-in-law. I lived in California. They lived in the midwest. One grandson (about 10 yrs. old) wanted to talk to me about his Savings Bonds. He just had to have some special tennis shoes/sneakers & wanted to cash some bonds to get the shoes! His mother told him no, but he wanted to get the answer from me.

My answer: "Absolutely not!"

Chris said...

This is interesting! I've never heard about it before. I loved your ending story! :-)

Kathy said...

Chris -- Do you mean you haven't heard of this scam? Occasionally someone falls for it locally and there's an article in the Trib. The story is usually that the grandson is in jail and needs money. Sometimes the caller pretends to be a friend of your grandson who is in jail.

Chris said...

Sadly, I'm not a very good paper reader. I read the funnies and that's about it. I prefer to remain in ignorance. And no, I don't watch the news, either. Usually the news isn't good, so my motto is "No news and good news," putting a different spin on that saying. :-)

Kathy said...

Prophetically, we discerned that we had a lot in common in kindergarten. I don't follow the news either. Only the names and faces change, I figure, and I'll never remember. And so much of it is frustrating. But -- I do skim the local stuff.

Chris said...

Yes, I do think we discovered kindred spirits back when we were just five, which is pretty amazing considering how few of us there were, especially "town girls", to bond with.

I remember you writing in a post a few years ago that you remembered meeting, with our mothers present, and thinking they knew we'd be friends.