CADILLAC — Leilani Murphy is a self-proclaimed “smart cookie,” so when she got a phone call from someone claiming to be her grandson, she knew something wasn’t right.
The 75-year-old Meauwataka resident said she recently received the call, and it didn’t take long for her to realize the person who was claiming to be her 15-year-old grandson was really someone trying to scam her out of some money.
She said the caller told her he got invited to go on vacation with another family. While on this vacation, they were in a car crash. When police were at the scene of the crash, the caller told Leilani that they also found drugs in the car. As a result, everyone was arrested.
Leilani said the caller needed her to send him bail and asked her to keep this from his parents. She also said he didn’t sound like her grandson. She started to put things together, and when she verbally said she thought this call was a scam, the caller hung up.
“I’m not going to fall for that, but I’m more concerned with other people who might,” she said. “It happens every day.”
Wexford County Undersheriff Rick Doehring said inmates at the Wexford County Jail are allowed to make a phone call, but those calls are collect calls. He also said if a person receives a call like the one Leilani did, it is important to ask questions and do some due diligence if you are uncertain if it is real or fake.
“Ask questions that only your grandson would know,” he said. “If you think it might be your grandson, ask him what the name of your dog is or when was the last time you were together. Ask questions that can’t be found online like birthdate, address or names of parents.”
He also said many times these scam calls will ask for gift cards, prepaid credit cards or even cash through money-wiring services. Doehring said those should be red flags. In Wexford County and likely a majority of the county jails in the state, Doehring said you physically have to come to either the jail or the court system to bail out a person who was arrested.
Finally, if there is any doubt, Doehring said to hang up and call the jail and see if they are actually in custody.