How an International Man of Mystery Scammed My Grandma
My 91-year-old grandmother leapt into action the moment I called to tell her I was in jail and needed $3,000 wired instantly. Only problem: It wasn’t me.
Illustrations by Gabriela Zurda
The day before her 91st birthday, my grandmother spent six hours driving between grocery stores in Wilton, Connecticut, wiring money to a man she thought was a crooked cop. She did this on my behalf, in the belief that she was bribing him to get me out of jail. Grandma is still sharp. She reads The Economist and The New Yorker, she has an iPad, she drives on her own, and she even does push-ups, but all of this didn’t stop her from losing $3,000 over the telephone.
Around the time the banks opened that day, my grandmother had just dressed and had her coffee. She was in her kitchen — picture a homey, middle-class affair, where copper pots hang above an island — when the phone rang. It was a number she didn’t recognize. She picked up and a voice said, “Hi, Grandma. You know who this is? It’s your favorite grandson.”
“Robert?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said. “I have a cold — that’s why my voice sounds strange. I need your help.”
He told a meandering story, something …