Jerry Davich: Attention grandparents: Don’t believe all of your ‘grandkids’
Jerry Davich firstname.lastname@example.org October 7, 2012 10:02PM
Jerry Davich. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 8, 2012 10:05PM
Selena Gonzales couldn’t believe the phone call she received last week.
The 73-year-old grandmother from Lake Station nearly fell out of her easy chair when she heard the frantic voice of one of her 21 grandchildren. Or so she thought.
“Grandma, I need your help!” the male voice said with well-rehearsed alarm. “My wallet was stolen and all my possessions, too. I’m stranded here without anything.”
“Here” happened to be overseas, somewhere in Europe, where her “grandson” was allegedly vacationing with his family. Or so she was told.
He and his family were robbed at gunpoint and they had nothing left to their name, he told Gonzales, who started asking questions. But, in hindsight, not the right questions.
“Is this Diego?” she asked sincerely, assuming it was her 33-year-old grandson, who’s married with children and living in California. “How is Maria?”
Yes, the voice replied. It was Diego, and Maria is fine but in shock, Gonzales was told.
“We need you to mail us money,” she was told. “Today, through Western Union.”
I’m guessing you know where this is going but, fortunately, Gonzales was rescued from mailing any money to her “grandson” by another legitimate grandson. She needed a ride to the bank to withdraw money so she called the local grandson for help.
“Who’s the money for?” the local grandson asked Gonzales. “Diego? I just talked with Diego last night. He’s not even in Europe.”
Sure enough, a couple phone calls later, Gonzales discovered that Diego was fine, his family was fine, and the caller was a scam.
“I almost got scammed of a lot of money,” she told me afterward.
I have heard similar scams involving older grandparents and their recently robbed “grandchildren,” usually from overseas or out of country.
“Jerry, please let your readers know about this scam,” said one elderly woman from Crown Point who fell for such a scam a few weeks ago. “I was too embarrassed to tell the police, so I ended up losing $300 before I figured out the scam.”
OK, grandparents, this is your official warning about this ongoing scam, which is obviously a successful one. Even if these scammers trick one or two grandparents into sending them money — out of, say, 100 calls a day — they are still in business. Don’t let it be you.
Ask a lot of questions and never, ever reveal personal information about yourself, your whereabouts, or your real grandchildren. If anything, have some fun with the caller by repeatedly asking, “Is this Diego?”
BP gas — the upside
My column last week on the Valparaiso couple who got the runaround from BP gas over their claim for engine repair reimbursement sparked a lot of feedback.
As expected, a few readers said their claim, too, has been sputtering from red tape. Such as this email from Jacob S.: “I have been dealing with BP for six weeks as well. I have a 2012 Toyota Tundra that is dead. It will cost $20,000 or more to fix. This has truly been a nightmare for me and my family. No one wants to help.”
But, surprisingly, many other readers told me their claim was filed, processed and reimbursed in a very timely fashion.
“In fact, I didn’t have to spend any out-of-pocket money myself to correct the problem,” said reader Earl Adams.
Adams said his GM dealership billed BP for all the costs for repair and even for a rental car.
“They also reimbursed me for all the gas I had purchased in their time frame,” he added. “From what I experienced and I have heard overall, BP did a pretty good job of responding, handling claims, and keeping a customer in me.”
Crime and punishment
The contentious issue involving prison inmate Clifton Boone Jr. continued on my latest Casual Fridays radio show, as I invited his family and the victim’s supporters to share their feelings. And that they did, similar to dozens of readers who also responded to my two previous columns on Boone, the now 57-year-old Gary man convicted of rape and kidnapping in 1976.
The crime and punishment controversy filled the entire one-hour show, with other callers voicing their opinions, too.
If you missed that volatile show, you can still listen to it online at my radio show blog website, http://jerrydavich.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/crime-and-punishment/.
Dept. store news flash(er)
Two women contacted me to say they were “visually assaulted” inside a department store on a recent Friday night.
Yes, a man approached both women in different sections of the store, which I am not identifying, and unzipped his pants to reveal his genitals.
“Luckily none of my children were with me,” one woman told me. “I feel violated.”
The other woman said she told store officials and, she was told, it’s happened before there.
I contacted the Valparaiso Police Department and I was surprised to learn that neither woman reported the incident.
“I would strongly request that the individuals contact our department and a police report be filed,” said Sgt. Michael Grennes told me.
There you go, folks. And if you’re fast with your cell phone camera ... hey, I’m just sayin’ for evidence purposes.
‘This one’s on me’
Remember the Portage mechanic who repaired an out-of-town military man’s car on a Sunday and refused to accept any payment in return?
That column attracted a lot of positive feedback from appreciative readers who told me that single act of “patriotism” reinstilled their hope in our country.
But one long-time reader of this column, Charles Burger of Chesterton, went one step further. He mailed me $10 to give to the mechanic, David Mrak.
“Tell him thanks and that this one’s on me,” Burger wrote on a note in the envelope.
Classy gesture, Chuck, and I’ll pass the cash on to Mrak via the Portage auto supply store who referred him to the U.S. airman in distress.
Find more of Jerry’s writings on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and jerrydavich.wordpress.com.