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Ray Duckler

Ray Duckler: You’re not my grandson! Who is this?

The voice sounded like her grandson, even called her what he’d always called her.

“Gram?”

“Nicky?”

It wasn’t long, though, before Carol Flamand knew something was fishy. Her “grandson” quickly handed the phone to another man, who said Nicholas needed $33,000, for one reason or another. Flamand, 71, doesn’t remember why.

But the retired Penacook woman had had enough. The call, made three months ago, was the third such phone scam attempted on the Flamand household within the past year. Flamand fired questions at the crook, like she had during the previous call, until he fired obscenities back at her and hung up.

The latest attempt happened just three days ago. So now, Flamand is here to

warn you. She knows seniors are often targeted this way. Beware, folks.

“I’m trying to make people alert to this,” Flamand said. “That’s why I called you.”

The scammers had done their homework in certain areas, but they failed to dig into the background of this potential victim.

“I question things,” Flamand said. “I don’t go into things blindly.”

She worked at Comcast for 17 years and New Hampshire Savings Bank for 10, and she knows something about wiring money and fraud and the need for privacy with respect to checking account information.

And that came in handy the first time these clowns called, last year. Flamand was in Florida while her husband, Edward, a retired construction worker, was at their Penacook home, where they’ve lived for 48 years.

Edward, obviously upset, called Carol. Something about their grandson, who builds missiles for the Air Force in North Dakota. Something about a traffic accident. Something about Western Union. Something about money.

“He told me he’d gotten a call from Nicky and he was in a car accident and it wasn’t his car and he hit a dignitary from Spain,” Flamand said. “Our grandson said he needed $2,500 for bail or they’d keep him in jail and then he’d be AWOL.”

Then Flamand remembers her husband saying that a lawyer got on the phone, adding to the sense of urgency that had already been created.

“I told my husband, ‘Do not wire that money,’ ” said Flamand, who quickly called her grandson to make sure he was okay.

Next, last June, another call came in, and this time Flamand was home. She spoke to someone again claiming to be her grandson. He said he needed the aforementioned $33,000.

“It sounded just like him,” Flamand said.

Then the scam took things a step further.

“The guy playing Nicky handed the phone to someone who told me to go to the nearest Western Union, and that it was at a Rite Aid on North State Street,” Flamand said. “He said this was confidential and that I shouldn’t tell anyone what I was doing.”

Mindful of what was happening, but searching for clues she could later feed to authorities, Flamand then asked to speak to her grandson and was told he was in jail. She could speak to him once the money had been sent, the man told Flamand. He’d call back in 20 minutes to see if the deal had been sealed.

“He called back and asked if I’d sent it and I told him no,” Flamand said. “I told him I wanted to speak to my grandson first. He said no and hung up.”

Ten minutes later, the phone rang again. Flamand recalled the conversation this way:

“Gram?”

“Nicky?”

“Can you send the money?”

“Sure, but first, what’s my name?”

“Carol.”

“And what’s your father’s mother’s name?”

“F--- her. And f--- you, too.”

On Friday, yet another phony call came in, this time with four people involved, and this time seeking to send Edward a new Medicare card. They wanted Flamand’s checking account number.

Flamand peppered the callers with questions, asking their names, their titles, their locations, their phone numbers where she could reach them.

She said three of the four men had foreign accents. She spoke to a John Frederick and his supervisor, an Allen Johnson. She was given an ID number from another man. She was also given two phone numbers for verification: one with a Florida are code, 305-890-1654, another from Texas, 512-631-3334.

I called them both and was told the same thing by two very pleasant women.

“Sorry, the number you have reached is not in service. Please check the number and dial again.”

Flamand has called the local and state police, plus the attorney general’s office. She’s been told nothing can be done.

So now she’s on a crusade, looking out for you.

“They target the elderly,” Flamand said. “The brain gets fuzzy when you get older, and they can be taken. They give money all the time, but I knew what was happening.

“I’m a tough woman.”

(Ray Duckler can be reached at 369-3304 or
rduckler@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @rayduckler.)

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