The woman, a former 911 dispatcher, knew immediately that she was being scammed by the person on the phone. "I feel like, 'Gotcha!'" she says about the incident.
You never know when you're going to end up being scammed. They might call you pretending to be some of your closest friends or family and then ask you for money. You immediately end up worrying about your loved ones and pay the money because you don't want them to be in trouble, but it is only later that you realize that you have, in fact, been tricked.
But there are people who are smart and are usually alert about things like this, and 73-year-old Jean is one of them.
When Jean got a call from someone alleging to be her grandson, she knew something was off. The man on the phone said he'd been arrested for drunk driving and needed her help to get out.
But Jean immediately sniffed a scam—she doesn't have a grandson. Moreover, the fact that she was a former 911 dispatcher from Seaford, N.Y., helped her quickly identify that the man was trying to make a fool of her.
"I knew he was a real scammer," Jean told CBS2 in a TV interview. "I just knew he wasn't going to scam me."
Instead of ending the call there, Jean decided to take things a bit further. She wanted to see if she could catch him to keep him from potentially tricking other people.
In fact, it was only when Jean started responding to the scammer did she know there was more than one person involved. According to a statement from the Nassau County Police Department, Jean ended up speaking to a second man claiming to be her grandson's lawyer—who said they needed $8,000 for bail—and a third man who claimed to be a bail bondsman nearby who could pick up the money.
"I told him I had the money in the house," Jean said, suggesting that he come pick it up. "I figured, he's not going to fall for that. Well, he fell for that hook, line, and sinker," she added. She then stuffed an envelope with paper towels and asked police officers to hurry over and wait so they could catch the scammer together.
Check on your elders. Set up Spam blocks on their phones. Get them a password book and write all their passwords down and put them somewhere safe. Stop assuming they’re good. Scammers are preying on them. Protect them.🌻🧝🏾♀️🌻— Goddess L. (@GoddessL_) January 23, 2022
So, when one of the scammers turned up at her doorstep to collect the $8,000, cops were waiting to pounce on him. She watched from her front porch as officers arrested him on her lawn.
Joshua Estrella Gomez, 28, was taken into custody and charged with attempted grand larceny, according to the police statement. He is scheduled to appear in court on February 3, 2022. It is not clear if Gomez has entered a plea to the charge against him or retained a lawyer who can speak on his behalf.
While Jean was smart enough to save herself from falling into a trap, not everyone is.
According to data from the FBI, millions of Americans fall for elder fraud each year. The FBI warns that seniors are more commonly targeted because they "tend to be trusting and polite" and often have money saved, a home in their name, and good credit.
"I feel like, 'Gotcha!'" Jean says about the incident, adding that she hopes others learn from her experience. "So many people fall for this and you only hear about it on the other end after they've lost $8,000."
The man is accused of portraying himself as the victim's jailed grandson, who claimed to need $8,000 to post bail, Nassau police say. https://t.co/lixIMBjZJb— WantaghSeaford Patch (@WSPatch) January 21, 2022
"Please take time to speak to your elderly parents, grandparents, or neighbors about these scams," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder wrote in a tweet following Gomez's arrest. "When in doubt call 911."
Cover Image Source: YouTube | CBS New York (Long Island Grandmother Credited With Taking Down Alleged Scammer)