MARSHALL, Ill. (WTHI) - A Wabash Valley man says his grandmother lost eight thousand dollars in a Walmart gift card scam. It would have been twelve grand if he and his family had not intervened.
Adam Setzer says he saw his grandma at his local Walmart and immediately felt something was wrong. Setzer says the 83 year old was acting evasive and distracted as she bought several gift cards. He tried to get answers but grandma insisted they'd talk later and she had an errand to run.
After speaking with his sister, Setzer says he decided to follow his grandmother to see what errand she was running. The search led Setzer to his grandmother's home. Inside, he found her on the phone scratching the backs off of the gift cards.
"I told her to stop whatever she was doing and that time she said she had to save her grandson."
That's when Setzer says he got on the phone.
"Not a pleasant conversation. Every question I asked him he answered with a question. Basically the same question I asked him he asked me so he wasn't going to tell me anything."
Setzer says the scammer called grandma the day before claiming to be her grandson. The caller was crying and said he was in trouble.
"Said that he had hurt someone in a wreck and they needed money for the medical bills. Well, that was the first call so that was the first four thousand dollars that she sent him. Then after that they said that he had died, the kid had died. They called back the next morning so she had to get another four thousand dollars."
Grandma gave the caller the codes on the back of the gift cards and withing hours the money was gone.
Luckily, Setzer interrupted before the scammers got another four thousand dollars.
"She started saying I can't believe they did this, I can't believe I fell for this."
Walmart has a web page dedicated to scams and how to avoid them. Setzer says the store staff asked his grandma the right questions but she lied, buying into the story and thinking she was saving her grandson.
The woman's real grandson was 'shook' by the ordeal, according to Setzer. Grandma and grandson have since spoken and both are relieved the other is okay.
Moving forward, Setzer suggests ignoring calls from restricted numbers saying if it is important the caller will leave a message. Keep in mind, number can be spoofed so always verify information with others. Setzer reminds families to check-in with elderly relatives and be a part of their everyday lives.
Local authorities are investigating this case. Setzer says they know one of the cards was used at a store in California so there is some hope police will catch the people responsible, however, it is still unlikely the eight thousand dollars will be recovered.
The family says they think the scammers got names and phone numbers with a simple internet search.