Grandmother Scammed Out of Thousands of Dollars

Nicole Ebat

OMAHA(KPTM)-- A 94-year-old Omaha woman was scammed out of thousands of dollars by someone claiming to be her grandson stuck in Peru.

"The telephone rings and it was supposedly my grandson calling saying he was in trouble," said Adele Gelbman. "I said 'oh what's the matter honey?'"

The person on the other end of the phone told her he was her grandson Mark. The person said he was stuck in jail in Peru and needed $3,000 before he could go to trial.

The worried grandmother didn't even hesitate.

"My grandson was supposedly talking to me and it sounded so like him, the way he speaks, the way he calls me. I would have staked my life on it that it was him," she said.

Days later, the scammers called back saying the grandson avoided trial, but would have to serve community service. Several thousand dollars more would get him out right away.

She headed back to Walmart to transfer more money, but the sales clerk refused to do it.

"She wouldn't make it out for me. I said 'it's my grandson and I want the money, it's up to me'. She would not do it no matter what I said," said Gelbman.

Gelbman said she kept fighting the clerk to send the money, but eventually the clerk talked her into calling her son.

Her son told her the grandson wasn't in Peru at all.

"I felt like such a fool, but it was only because it sounded like him, I still don't know how they did it, I would have sworn on my life it was him and I've had so many of these propositions before and I've never fallen for it," said Gelbman.

She said one simple step would have saved her money.

"Check first, you can always go and do it, but check before [you] go down. I should have checked," she said.

Police say if you ever get a phone call from someone claiming to be a relative asking for money, you should tell them to call back and then return the call with a number you know belongs to them.