Phone scam costs Spokane student’s grandmother $9,000



Posted on March 14, 2014 at 5:48 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 6:20 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- A Spokane medical student said thieves swindled her grandmother out of thousands of dollars during a recent phone scam. The student said the person on the other line impersonated her and claimed she needed money to get out of jail.

Lacy Irwin said her grandmother told her to call her anytime she needed help.

“My grandma, she would do anything for me. She’s a smart lady. She said this person sounded exactly like me,” said Erwin.

Irwin said her grandmother, who lives in South Dakota, got a call on Tuesday from a person claiming to be her.

Irwin said the impersonator talked to her grandmother for only five minutes and told her grandmother she had been arrested for drugs in Vegas. Then, another person who claimed to be associated with the jail or court took over the call.

“The person said, I don’t think Lacy had anything to do with the drugs, but the courts do so they kind of made me to be an innocent victim in a court process,” said Irwin.

The person instructed her to go to Walmart to transfer money. She said her grandmother transferred $5,000 to an account and one of the scammers talked her through how to do it. The grandmother told her husband about the transaction. Irwin’s grandfather tried to call her but she missed the call because she was at work.

“They were up all night, thinking I was in jail, crying. It’s just terrible,” said Irwin.

She said her grandmother got another call from the impersonator saying they needed another $4,000.  She thought the money was going to help her granddaughter get a plane ticket home and make sure there would be nothing on her criminal record, so she paid up.

Irwin returned her grandparents phone call on Wednesday and they all realized this was a scam.

“I know my grandma loved me, but I had no idea how far she would go. I feel like, if anything, the one good thing is I just feel incredibly loved,” said Irwin.

Irwin said police told her grandmother they have difficulty tracing these cases because account are usually overseas and so are the scammers.