By Arnold Malone
Pioneer Columnist

Part 2 of 2

Susan and I believed we were persons who would not be easily fooled. Now, having recently been targets of a phone scam, we know how fast and easy it is to be taken in. We wish to share our thoughts about our experience in case one day a scammer may intrude upon you.

Scammers have a variety of approaches. In our case, the first thing that caused us to fall into the scammers’ grip was how they preyed on our emotions with the crying, sobbing voice of a young man claiming to be our son. When Susan said, “Andy, is that you?” we unwittingly gave the scammers a name. Thereafter, his name was used frequently by a pretend lawyer. This made us believe he really was with Andy.

Then the scammer shocked us with details about our son being charged with drunk driving causing a car crash in which a young boy suffered a broken leg; he was in jail but if we immediately posted bail he would be released until his court hearing. Implied were ongoing costs, legal fees, possible lawsuits. We got sucked in.

The fake lawyer said things such as, “I need to go speak with him now to try to calm him down.” This was designed to make us believe he was working in our family’s best interest.

When anyone gets a shocking phone call such as this, the best advice we have is to start asking questions and don’t stop asking. We were so stunned by the initial sobbing voice pretending to be our son followed by a warm professional voice pretending to be a lawyer that we failed to ask important questions. Had we asked just a few the call would have abruptly ended.

Likely, you will need to interrupt the scammer. The pretending lawyer, while calm and professional, had a continuous script. He left no opening for questions. 

We should have asked for a description of our son. His approximate age, or any personal question for which a fake caller could only give a wild guess. If the caller says something like, “Those things don’t matter at this moment” you need to insist they be answered. Fake calls can be identified as such by asking questions that a scammer could not answer. 

The call could have come from anywhere.  The callers don’t know who they’re contacting. Our son lives in Vancouver. Suppose we had asked, “What city did this happen in?” “In what hospital was he treated?” “What time did this occur?” (We spoke with Andy the night before and knew his upcoming schedule.) 

The good thing about insisting on answers to a series of questions is that almost for sure the scammer will crumble. The bad thing is, as soon as the scammers give up on you they turn their attack towards other innocent persons. 

The approach used on us is common. Someone you hold dear, a child, a grandchild, a friend, is in very serious trouble. These professional thieves gain your trust and explain in detail how you can help by providing money that must be sent without delay.

We reported our experience to our local RCMP. A very kind and sympathetic officer took our statement. He told us this is a very lucrative activity. At a previous posting, an eighty-year-old woman was scammed out of twenty thousand dollars. Had we made the payment it most likely would have been automatically transferred to another account then rapidly transferred several more times.

No one is immune from fraud. For information on how to protect yourself against scams, look up The Little Black Book of Scams at