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Virginia grandmother loses thousands to scammers

Scammer called her, said grandson was in jail

RICHMOND, Va. – Most grandparents would do just about anything to help a grandchild.

It's that unconditional love that scammers bank on to take your money. That's how a Virginia grandmother lost thousands to a scammer. 

Gerry Davis remembers every word and even the cadence of the the caller's voice, which probably helps explain why she believed it was her grandson, who is a freshman in college.

"He said, 'Hello, Gram. I'm in trouble. I'm in trouble.' I said, 'Tell me about it. Let's just think this thing out,'" said Davis. 

The impostor knew to call her "Gram." He said he had been pulled over by police, arrested and jailed.

The story triggered a flood of emotions and prompted Davis to act on all the caller's instructions.

"I said, 'Well, don't worry,' and he said, 'But they found drugs in the car.' I said, 'Well, that wasn't so good,' and he said, 'I am totally clear,'" said Davis.

The phone scammer told her to go to Home Depot and purchase prepaid money cards and call them back with the numbers on the back of each card.

She said Home Depot smelled a fraud and tried to dissuade her.

"They said, 'Mrs. D., this is a scam.' I said, 'I heard my grandson. I don't want anything to happen to him. Just give me the cards.' So they kept saying, 'It's a scam. It's a scam.'"

The crooks got several thousand dollars but wanted more.

"Then I got another call and they said, 'Everything is fine. Your grandson is being taken back to college,'" said Davis. "Then he said, 'But the lawyer wants a bit more.'"

This time, Davis was sent to Target to purchase more prepaid cards.

Two managers at Target convinced her that she was the victim of a fraudulent and elaborate scheme.

"They said, 'No, Mrs. Davis, this is a scam.' I said, 'Don't tell me it's a scam.' They said, 'Yes, yes,'" said Davis. "My regret is that I wasn't savvy enough at a quarter of 8 in the morning to hang up on them, because I should have hung up." 

Davis unfortunately ended up losing a large chunk of her savings to the crooks, but she said she's thankful that her grandson is OK.

She's also writing a letter to Target to thank the managers who saved her from losing even more money.

Her experience is a good reminder to be careful what personal information you post on social media, and to always be skeptical of strangers asking for money over the phone.