ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando man who said he and his wife were recently targeted by phone scammers reached out to News 6 to inform others and help them avoid being swindled.
Terry Ingraham said his wife received a phone call Friday morning from a 407 area code over which the caller claimed he was their grandson and had just been arrested for DWI.
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“He sounded really distressed and when I asked him where he was, he said he did not know what town or city he was in. He said he only had a few minutes left to talk. I told him we would do what we could to help him,” Ingraham said via email.
After being told that a “public defender” would soon be on the line, Ingraham said that the man hung up and another call came in minutes later, this time from an 813 area code.
“He told me that our grandson had caused a traffic accident and that he was being charged with DWI. He said our grandson had only minor injuries, but a pregnant woman involved in the accident was rushed to the hospital,” Ingraham said.
Ingraham said the person on the phone told him that a judge had set his grandson’s bail at $8,500 and that it had to be paid in cash.
“He told me to go to the bank and get the cash, and then call him back and he would tell me how to proceed,” Ingraham said.
While Ingraham said his wife then mentioned that the person claiming to be their grandson didn’t sound familiar, he explained that the idea of a crash involving an injured pregnant woman distracted them enough to reconsider calling their grandson’s parents before attaining more details. Once Ingraham’s wife had returned from the bank with the money, another call instructed the couple that the cash would need to be sent the same day via UPS because “the bail bondsman’s office was closed on Saturday,” he said.
“He was talking fast, and my mind was spinning,” Ingraham said.
Ingraham said he was told to place the cash into two envelopes, place those envelopes in a small box and disguise the contents with magazines.
“At this time the ‘light bulb came on’ and we both realized that is was a scam,” Ingraham said. “I had the phone on speaker and I began shaking my head as my wife rolled her eyes. I then asked him if he thought I was dumb enough to place $8,500 in a cardboard box and give it to UPS.”
Upon asking the caller what kind of scam he was trying to pull off, Ingraham said he was told the man would call him right back. When that did not happen, Ingraham said his wife took the cash back to the bank while he got in contact with his grandson’s parents.
“I told (his father) what had happened. A few minutes later our daughter called and told us she had contacted our grandson. He was at his work and he was fine,” Ingraham said.
Ingraham reported the phony phone call to the Federal Trade Commission and said they sought to get the word out to the community about the scammers.
“The more the public is made aware of this scam the less likely it is to be successful. We thought we were ‘too smart’ to be fooled but we were,” Ingraham said.