PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

May 1, 2013

Scammed: ‘Granny’ shares story to help someone else avoid big loss


Port Arthur News

— When Marilyn Guidry received a call from “her grandson” who had been involved in a terrible wreck while on vacation in Cancun, her heart dropped.

The “grandson” needed money fast because he was in a bad situation and the “granny” complied.

“It was like I was in a trance doing exactly what they said,” Guidry said of the scam that caused her to send a total of $1,500 to an impostor a little more than two weeks ago.

Guidry, 76, of Port Arthur, said she felt ashamed at first.

“I know how to take care of a business,” the former businesswoman said. “I was a single parent for 30 years and have seven children (two are deceased). I taught all of them to take care of business. Two are doctors, one is an attorney, one is a finance person and a manager who runs a blood center and I was taken in by a person who called me “granny.”

Guidry’s ordeal began when her sister, age 81 and recovering from heart surgery, answered her phone. The man on the other end asked for “granny” so she handed the phone to Guidry.

“He never called me by name, he called me granny,” she said.

The two conversed a while and the fake grandson said he had been in an accident while taking “a little vacation in Cancun” to celebrate his upcoming graduation from college. Guidry’s real grandson is expected to graduate from the University of Texas at Austin so the story about a trip seemed legit.

The man said he had totaled a rental car, his face was “busted” and he was in the hospital. He needed $1,000 immediately.

“I’ve never been scammed before or heard too much about it,” she said. “I paid a big price for learning, now I know what to say.”

Guidry asked the man if he had called his parents and he begged her not to call them because they would be upset.

The con artist had an answer for every question thrown at him. His voice sounded different because of the wreck, his phone wasn’t working, he didn’t have his passport or drivers license and didn’t want to mess up his graduation so he was going to use a fake name — all she had to do was send the money through Western Union.

“He was so close to the finish line. He had a good job already and had never asked me for a penny,” she said.

Western Union, she added, did not allow the money to go through, likely suspecting a fraud. Then she was directed to Money Gram who did allow the transaction.

“He told me he would call when he got it, then he asked for more,” she said. “I said I can’t give any more and he said ‘please granny, I can’t get out of the hospital, they won’t release me until I pay the bill.’ He got me for another $500 for a total of $1,500.”

The impostor told Guidry he was taking a 7 p.m. plane, but didn’t give a destination.

“All of that came back to me,” she said of hindsight into the situation. “I was taken. I felt foolish. I started not to tell anybody but if my story could save one old person like me, I’m willing to tell my story.”

Guidry learned of the scam about a week ago while taking to the grandson’s mother. At first she was confused, wondering why the grandson would call and make up a story to get money out of her. So she called him directly and asked him about Cancun and the money. The truth finally sunk in.

Sadly, the money lost on the scam could have been a graduation present for the grandson, she said.

Looking back over the scam brings bitter memories.

“I am a strong woman. I’ve raised my children and done good by them. I’ve bought my own house,” she said. “My sister said all I was thinking about was my grandchildren.”

She now realizes that if she had just called his number she would have learned of the scam.

“Before you send any money, dial the number of the person you’re sending money to,” she said. “Don’t do it blindly, get more information.”

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews