RAYMOND - Aug. 19, was just another busy day in the life of Evelyn Wilson. The long-time Raymond resident was preparing to go to the Elks Lodge to help prepare for a memorial reception. When her phone rang and a cheerful male voice said, "Hi, Grandma, how are you?" she had no reason to be on her guard.
She explained to this reporter, "I don't talk to my grandsons enough to know their voices over the phone." When she asked the caller where he was, he said he was in Canada. "Trevor, is that you?" she said.
Wrong thing to say! Of course the caller agreed and explained he had flown to Vancouver, B. C., to attend a concert. After partying a bit, he was involved in an accident with the rental car he was driving and when his alcohol level registered .22 - "Horrific!" exclaimed Wilson, adding that she didn't know her grandson to be a drinking man - he learned the agency's insurance did not cover the circumstances.
The clever caller explained to his "Grandma" that he wanted to be able to look his wife in the eye when he told her what he'd done and he didn't want to tell his dad over the phone either. He went on to say that he was using a phone card and a pay phone because his cell phone had been confiscated. No way to track him! "Could you help me?" he pleaded. "Could you send me $2,700?"
Still no red flags went up! She checked her finances, said she could, and went to the Western Union office to send off the money to her "grandson." (Western Union would only send $2,500 but charged $200 for the transfer!) After giving instructions, the caller told Wilson he'd call her back in an hour to get the 10-digit number he'd need to pick the amount up in Vancouver and Evelyn went on to the Elks to work on food for the memorial. True to his word, "grandson Trevor" called her back at the club for the necessary numbers and then informed her he'd call again in another hour.
It wasn't until Evelyn was driving home later that afternoon that the thought struck her, "I never heard from that kid!" She immediately called her daughter, and they notified the city police.
A call to Western Union determined that "someone" had picked up the money, so they reported the theft to the Attorney General's office and the Consumer Union. By then, unfortunately, it was too late!
Evelyn Wilson is a smart lady. She is well known in the Raymond-South Bend community, a former businesswoman in South Bend, a Chamber of Commerce member, a volunteer on many Willapa Harbor events, a former city of Raymond commissioner. But she made a fatal mistake. Not being familiar with her grandson's voice, she assumed wrongly and, worse, even gave her phony caller a name that made him legitimate. She willingly sent a "fake grandson" money without ascertaining the facts.
Evelyn emphasizes, "I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, do not ever give out a name. Tell the person who is calling you will call back." And get a phone number. If a number can't be provided, don't continue the conversation - hang up! "I want to tell you," Evelyn adds, "Do not go along with them (an unknown caller). Check with someone before you ever send money. This could have been my PUD bill money that I sent and, for some people, it could be their food or medicine money."
How fast something like this can happen! There are scam artists everywhere. They can make $2,500 in less than 30 minutes and go on to some other unsuspecting person. In an instant, an otherwise moxie individual can be bilked out of $2,500, a home, a lifetime's savings.
"I did it of my own free will," Evelyn laments. "I just kissed it (the money) goodbye, pleased to think that 'Trevor' thought grandma would help him. There was nothing I could do; I had to let it go. Crying wouldn't bring it back. But I don't want it to happen to anyone else."
-Reprinted with permission