Scammer playing ‘grandson’ game strikes out with Hazel Dell woman

By John Branton, Columbian Staff Reporter

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Enough with the phony grandsons, already!

A Hazel Dell woman got a phone call late last month that’s typical of a scam that’s plagued older Clark County residents since at least September 2008.

“Hi, Grandma,” the man said, adding something like “Let’s keep this between you and me.”

As is usually claimed, the caller said he’d been in a car crash, this time on an island off the Florida Coast, and broke his nose. He needed her to send him $4,200.

Juanita Hood, 85, has a few grandsons but was a bit suspicious.

“I said, ‘Who is this?’ and he bypassed that.”

One of her grandsons is named Chris, and she decided to throw the caller some curve balls.

“I said, ‘Chris, how are your wife and the girls?’ Why didn’t you call your wife and the little girls? I said, ‘Since you’re in the Navy, how did you get that much leave?’”

The scammer tried deflecting Hood’s questions, but he was skating on ice much thinner than he realized.

Her grandson Chris doesn’t have daughters and isn’t in the Navy, Hood said later.

“I had him cold by then.”

She said she offered some grandmotherly advice to the scammer, that he was pricing himself out of business.

“I said, ‘Next time you make a call like this, ask for $1,200 instead of $4,200.’”

That’s pretty much where the call ended. The caller got nothing.

Hood said it gave her an odd feeling, since she’s not accustomed to butting heads with criminals, and she does have grandsons who could conceivably need her help sometime.

“It’s kind of unnerving,” she said. “It does shake you up a little.”

The Columbian has warned readers about the grandson scam many times, for more than two years.

But the fact that scammers keep trying it here seems to indicate they are scoring in some cases.

Folks should spread the word to other seniors, Hood said.

“I’d hate to see someone lose their life savings to some jackass!”

John Branton: 360-735-4513 or john.branton@columbian.com.