Crooks try to fool 80-year-old San Jose grandma with scam

Michael Finney Image
Saturday, October 5, 2019
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The bad guys thought an 80-year-old grandma might be a good target for the grandma scam. They were wrong.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Eighty-year-old Dorothy Ruark is like most grandmothers -- she would do anything for her grandson, Landon. His photographs are all over her San Jose home.

Recently her phone rang -- and on the other end was big trouble.

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"It sounded exactly like my grandson," Dorothy said. "He said, 'Grandma, I need your help'. I said 'what', I was oblivious. He said, 'I need you to give me some money.'"

She was told he had been drinking, was in a car accident and had landed in a Fresno jail cell. An attorney got on the line and said $7,000 was needed to bail out Landon.

It was the grandparent scam -- a classic -- and Dorothy did not fall for it. In part because of a 7 On Your Side Report where Lisa Hardy told us about how her father, Calvin Benton had been taken in by the grandparent scam.

"The person gave him explicit instructions not to discuss this with anyone," Hardy said. "He was terrified that something horrible had happened to his grandson."

Dorothy had seen that report.

"I happened to be scanning through the channels and I saw you were talking with this elderly lady and about how she had been scammed on something, the phone thing," she said, "I thought that is interesting."

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Then a couple days later Dorothy got the bogus call.

She telephoned us and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. Cherie Bourland is an attorney in the Elder Fraud Unit.

Cherie told us, "You protect yourself by paying attention to what is going on in the news, so I am glad that Dorothy came forward and contacted you so we could have this public announcement."

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.