Scam Alert: Crooks used information from social media to scam concerned grandmother

Posted at 6:37 PM, Nov 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-01 10:06:24-05

“I said 'what`s wrong? What`s wrong?' Well uh, I`ve been in an accident and I have two black eyes, I broke my nose, and I have stitches,” says Genevieve DeStefano, a fraud victim.

Genevieve was panicked when the person claiming to be her grandson told her he had been in an accident and hit another car.

“Now, you have to talk to this gentleman, he is going to talk to you,” says Angie Lane, a U.S. Postal Inspector.

The second person claimed he was an attorney who needed a payment to keep Genevieve`s grandson out of jail.

“In order for him to not have this record and not have a jail sentence, you`re going to have to pay a lawyer fee,” says Lane.

The unusual fee, $9,000 in iTunes cards. So Genevieve immediately went to a store to buy them.

“I was so scared, because he had me so scared... you know that you`ll just ruin it all and he will have to stay in jail,” says Genevieve.

Some may have found the request for iTunes cards suspicious but Genevieve had no idea what the cards even were.

Postal inspectors say suspects always use a sense of urgency in these cases.

“Time was of the essence in her mind. She didn`t know if he was injured. They are claiming he has a broken nose and she`s unsure if he is receiving medical attention,” says Lane.

That was one red flag.

“If they tell you to keep it a secret, let that be a red flag. Call and verify the facts that they are telling you. Don`t be quick to act. Be quick to think,” says Lane.

“I cannot believe that I fell for this,” says Genevieve.

In this case, Genevieve`s family happened to stop by her house and she quickly realized her grandson was at work - not in jail.

How did the scam artists know her grandson`s name? Social media may be to blame.

“My daughter took all of my information off Facebook. I don`t even want to be on it, don`t want to be on it anymore,” says Genevieve.

Postal inspectors suspect the men on the phone were calling from another country.

This story has a happy ending -- Genevieve`s family quickly called postal inspectors, their bank and ITunes. Genevieve got all of her money back.