AUBURN, Calif. (KTXL) — An elderly woman from Auburn is out thousands of dollars after falling for a scam, but with the help of some friends and law enforcement, one of the people responsible has been caught.
“It’s really sick. They play off the emotion of the elderly,” Robert Barringer, the victim’s son, said.
Barringer’s 88-year-old mother, Mary, got a phone call last Tuesday saying her granddaughter was in a horrible accident and was being charged with reckless endangerment. She allegedly needed $24,000 to handle the situation.
“He had an actress in the background that sounded like her granddaughter, my niece. He played off the emotions,” Barringer said.
Mary was determined to help her granddaughter, but what she didn’t know was that her granddaughter was safe and it was a scammer on the other end of the phone.
“They’re well oiled, and they know what they’re doing,” Barringer told FOX40.
The scammers told Mary to go to the bank and pull out $10,000, so that’s exactly what she did. Mary placed the money in an envelope outside her door, and a man picked it up. She didn’t tell anyone.
But when she went to lunch with friends, they realized something was off with Mary. She then confessed her granddaughter was in trouble.
Her friends encouraged her to call the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. So, when the scammers called back to ask for the remaining $14,000, she was prepared for them.
“The deputies cut up coupons that looked like money and placed the coupons into another envelope and placed it on the front porch,” Angela Musallam, with the sheriff’s office, said.
Deputies later arrested 36-year-old Daniel Omar Gomez-Gil on suspicion of theft from an elderly person, obtaining money under false pretenses, conspiracy and other related charges. But the investigation continues.
“The person on the phone is actually different than the driver, so there were two people at play here,” Musallam said.
“We’re relieved that Placer County got the pigeon, but he is just a pigeon. He’s just a small fry, but I’m hoping to God he opens his mouth because he’s got probably a lot to share,” Barringer said.
The Barringer family hopes that by sharing their story they can help other elderly people from falling for similar scams.
The sheriff’s office is still working to track down that second person involved in the scam, and they want to remind everyone if something sounds fishy over the phone, hang up and verify the information yourself.