OKLAHOMA CITY - Ken Helterbrand thought it was his granddaughter calling him from jail.
“Sounded just like her, her voice,” he recalled.
Of course it wasn't Megan, who tells the In Your Corner team she’s never been arrested.
Megan's a pastor at a local church. Her record is squeaky clean, not even a speeding ticket.
Criminals posed as her, convincing her granddad she and a friend were busted with pot and they told Ken not to tell Megan’s mom and dad.
“I said, ‘I'm not going to tell dad. This is between you and me,’” Ken added.
Ken didn't tell a soul and drove straight to this Edmond Super Walmart where he was instructed to put eight payments of $500 each on pre-paid debit cards for Megan's supposed bail money.
Lucky for Ken, his guardian angel was waiting for him, a vigilant Walmart employee.
“He said yeah, that's a scam.”
Ken’s son, Chris, is relieved to know his daughter, Megan, isn’t in jail and his dad wasn’t scammed.
“I was just grateful Walmart had trained their people to look for this kind of thing,” he said. “More than that they were bold to step up and say you know what this is not a thing. You need to go to the police.”
The In Your Corner bottom line:
- Sit down and come up with a family code word that only the family will know.
- Also, be mindful of what information you post on social media.
Granddaughter Megan said, “How did they know to call my grandfather? How did they get the number?”
Often times these are organized crime rings that pre-select elderly sounding names and buy "lead" lists off the black market, including a "sucker list," which is a database of people who have been scammed before.
Listen up grandparents!
If you receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild in trouble, hang up, and call your grandchild back on their phone.
Educating yourself and the seniors in your life is the best defense.