Posted on 15 August 2012 by Mathew White
Last week Doris Walton experienced what she described as “three hours of horror.”
Today, she’s trying to get her story out there so no other seniors in Osoyoos will have to experience the pain and panic of what she went through.
“Grandparents beware because that stress is terrible,” she said.
It all started last Wednesday. Walton was sitting out on her deck, enjoying the sunshine, when she received a phone call from an unknown name and number.
On the other end of the line was a man claiming to be her grandson Ryan, who had coincidentally just been in town visiting before making his way across the border for Seaside, Oregon.
This man had some unfortunate news.
“He said, ‘grandma, I was in a car accident at a wedding. I got drunk, smashed my nose, got a DUI and now I’m in jail. I need $1,600 or they won’t let me out,’ ” said Walton.
Needless to say, Walton went into an immediate state of panic, but she admits she did feel a little ‘leery’ about the whole thing.
After asking a few more questions, the man on the line said he had to go and Walton would be contacted shortly by a lawyer.
As she waited, Walton frantically attempted to call anyone and everyone who may have been able to contact her grandson. Unfortunately, to prevent massive bills due to roaming charges, her grandson and those he was travelling with all had their cellphones turned off.
And of course, everyone else she attempted to contact would also be unavailable.
“They eat with them, they sleep with them, but when you need them, you can’t get a hold of them,” said Walton.
A few minutes later Walton received a second call. This time it was from a man who identified himself as Victor Doron, a lawyer from Gatineau, Quebec, who said he would need $1,950 for her grandson’s release.
Still feeling suspicious about the situation, Walton asked for the man to email her a proper letterhead with his title and credentials.
The man agreed and said he would call back in a few minutes, but not before Walton offered to pay the bill via credit card. Fortunately, the man said he would only accept cash and the money would have to be transferred through Western Union.
Still in fear for her grandson, Walton phoned a local bank and asked if there was a Western Union in town. She was told no, but there might be one in Oliver, so Walton called Oliver, and again, discovered there wasn’t any Western Union depot.
So now Walton was faced with having to go to Penticton, all the while still receiving phone calls from the lawyer, asking her how soon she can get this money transferred.
Eventually, ‘Ryan’ phoned again, asking for the money, but at this point Walton said she was really starting to question what was happening and so she did the smartest thing she could and asked the man a question only the true Ryan would know.
“And I said, ‘Ryan, what day were you born?’ And he couldn’t answer me. And I say, ‘Ryan, tell me mom and dad’s name,’” said Walton.
From there, the man got mad and simply hung up.
Following that, through the grapevine, Walton was finally able to get a message to her family, who then rushed back to Osoyoos asking what was wrong.
After clearing everything up, they did a bit of investigative work and found that the number the lawyer had given her (1-514-365-3558) was clearly linked to a fraud or scam operation.
A simple Google search turned up dozens of comments left by people who experienced very similar situations.
Obviously Walton is happy her grandson is OK, but she is concerned of what this could possibility do to other seniors in the area. In particular, she said a number of seniors in poor health or with weak hearts could very well die after something this traumatizing.
“I’m just so angry,” she said. “We can go to the moon but can’t keep people protected by this number.”
For those reasons, Walton is again warning all seniors in the area to beware of this scam.
She said this was one of the most frightening things she has gone through and would hate to see it happen to anyone else in Osoyoos.
RCMP are warning members of the public to never give money or personal banking information to anyone over the phone.
If a stranger phones you and is unable to answer basic questions asked of them, the odds are there is a phone scam involved, say police.
Anyone answering a call like this should hang up the phone immediately as the con artist on the other end of the line is not likely to call back if he or she realizes you’re onto their scam.
Despite being a well-known scam that has been going on for years, it continues to be one of the most popular among con artists because they only need to trick one or two seniors each day and they can take home a substantial amount of money, say police.
Walton said she has learned her lesson and will hang up the telephone if she is ever to receive a similar call again in the future. She urges other seniors in Osoyoos to do the same.