Theft is relative: SP woman targeted for variation of Grandmother scam

March 08, 2017
Santa Paula News

Theft is relative, Delia Cordero discovered when she almost lost $900 to a woman who called and identified herself as Cordero’s niece in distress.

Cordero, a resident of Santa Paula since 1979, received the phone call several weeks ago.

“She called and using Spanish said ‘this is your favorite niece’ and I believed it, even called her by name,” said Cordero. 

Many people have been warned about the Grandmother scam and the Aunt scam is apparently a new variation.

And a variation that worked on Cordero. 

“I feel so dumb, I always hear about the Grandmother scam,” but Cordero said she was unprepared to deal with the scammer who called.

The woman pretending to be her niece started out slow, noting she was returning from Mexico: “She said ‘we’re in Indio, we’re welcome to come over, aren’t we?’ I said of course and she said ‘okay, see you in about two to three hours.’ So we hung up.”

About an hour or so later Cordero’s phone rang again and the woman pretending to be her niece said she’d been in an automobile accident and there was a little girl riding in the other car who had hit her head.”

The woman told Cordero she was calling from a hospital emergency room and, as the accident was her fault, she was paying for the medical visit but was $900 short.

“She put a man on to talk to me, the other driver,” and father of the injured little girl. “He said he didn’t want to call the police. He said ‘we’re in a hurry and he gave a name,’ to send the money to.”

Cordero went to Tresierras Supermarket and paid $908 for a Western Union money order and returned home.

When the phone rang she thought it would be her “niece,” telling her the hospital bill had been paid and she was again on her way but instead Cordero found herself talking to a Tresierras clerk.

“She asked me a bunch of questions, I was kind of ticked off,” said Cordero.

The clerk explained about false identity phone scams and said, “ ‘I am sorry but I cannot send that money as it might be a scam.’ 

“And,” said Cordero, “as soon as she said that I thought ‘oh my gosh, this is a scam!’ ”

The clerk, Cordero added, made sure she got a full refund.

In the interim, Cordero’s “niece” had been texting asking when the money would arrive. 

“I texted her back and told her I reported you to the police,” which Cordero had. “She never bothered me again.” 

Cordero is thankful she was stopped from sending the $900 to her “favorite” niece. 

“I felt so dumb,” as, said Cordero, “you always hear about scams!”

Remember: if someone calls and infers they are related, do not call them by name. Rather, ask them to identify themselves. If in doubt, call another family member. 

For information about other scams, visit Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information:

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