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Con Men Scam Long Island Grandmother

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Barbara Burtch (credit: CBS 2)

Barbara Burtch (credit: CBS 2)

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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.

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