Con Men Scam Long Island Grandmother

PORT JEFFERSON STATION, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An elderly Long Island woman was scammed by con men on the phone, CBS 2’s John Slattery reports.

“They were good, very good. They were convincing. I’m not embarrassed. I’m angry,” 73-year-old grandmother Barbara Burtch said.

At her Port Jefferson Station home, Burtch got a phone call from a man posing as her 21-year-old grandson David, saying he was in Mexico City.

“He said ‘I’m in trouble, in an accident, but I’m okay. We were arrested, spent the night in jail. He said ‘You’ll hear from someone shortly’,” Burtch recounted.

Burtch says she got another call from a man claiming to be Michael Willis, with the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

“‘You have two choices: you can pay the fine requested, which wasn’t specified at that time, or over a month and a half, work it off’,” she said.

She said the grandson urged her not to call his parents. The price of freedom turned out to be $2,800 plus a fee, wired from a Western Union office.

“How I finally realized I’d been scammed. I called David’s cell phone which, my dear, I should have done to begin with,” she said.

Burch, who works in accounting, wonders how they found her and knew about her grandson. Police advise, don’t be too eager to pay up.

“Attempt to verify the info as much as you can, and if you’re in doubt, call us,” said Sgt. Michael Fitzharris of the Suffolk County Police.

Grandparents are vulnerable because they want to help their loved ones, but you’ve got to get the facts before you act.

The victim believes the con men may have known about her from information on her grandson’s Facebook page.

Please leave a comment below…

  • DMD New Jersey

    The same thing almost happened to my mother in law, they called her saying her grandson (my son) was in an accident in Canada and asked her not to tell us because he didn’t want to get in trouble. She went as far as going to the bank to get the money and said to herself let me call his parents to help get him out of jail before she western unioned the money. She was afraid she would do something wrong. Thank goodness she came to us first and these thieves didn’t get away with it. Our local police were called and they said this happens all the time. It infuriates me that these creeps continue to get away with this scam.

  • Eileen

    This happened to my mother in 2010, and the call came from Canada regarding my niece. My mother, of course, responded immediately and sent money via Western Union.

    Perhaps Western Union needs to work with local police departments & the FBI to catch these scammers. It’s been going on for many years, and the money is apparently always wired via Western Union.

    • The Realist

      Western Union is not about to give up its wire fees by doing anything about this.

  • Marilyn McDonough

    I , also was a victim of this scam. Never thought it could happen to me. It was my son who called and said he was in an accident, in jail in Mexico City, send money etc. I was SCARED, sent the money .
    . Next day I was told to send more money. Many thanks to security at Western Union who talked to me before they would send a $5700.00 payment. Be aware, ask questions before you act. I was told many of these scams originate in Canada.
    mm selden, NY

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live