Scam Alert: Local senior citizen tricked out of thousands

Scam Alert: Local senior citizen tricked out of thousands
Gerry Winter scammed by a caller claiming to be her grandson
Gerry Winter scammed by a caller claiming to be her grandson

PAINESVILLE, OH (WOIO) - Another northeast Ohio senior citizen is the victim of a scam artist. The caller managed to steal her retirement money three times before she realized her mistake.

The caller didn't even know the victim's grandson's name. 

But according to the victim, he still knew what to say. 

The caller said, "It's your favorite grandson."

Gerry Winter replied, "'Johnny?'" (Because) I only have one grandson."

The caller claimed he was Johnny in Mexico for a wedding, and that he got into an accident and hit a pole with the rental car. 

Furthermore, that he had to pay for the damages. 

The soon-to-be victim took the bait and exclaimed, "I says, 'Oh, no!'"

With the accompaniment of her walker, Gerry Winter headed out to wire $1,500 to her grandson supposedly in a bind in Mexico. 

She said she thought she was helping, "My only thought was give him the money! Get him out of there and get him home! So, that's what I did."

But, the scammers didn't stop at $1,500. They called back again the next day playing on Grandma's heart. 

She started running around like crazy from Madison to Mentor and then back to Western Union. This time the scammers took her for $1,400.
She was warned by the caller, "He goes, 'Just promise me you won't tell anybody.'"

She believed him, "Don't worry Johnny. I won't say anything.'"

In all they had the audacity to call five times.

Gerry out almost $3,000 and was about to hand over $2,400 more.

The Western Union employees became suspicious and saved Grandma. They wouldn't complete the transaction for her next money wire to a bogus recipient.

"What I thought was, 'Thank God, he's home!' That's all I could think about! Didn't even think about the money," Mrs. Winter relayed to 19 Action News relieved for her grandson's safety.

She's not alone in her sweet vulnerability.

Our Dawn Kendrick found police in Mentor, Brunswick, and Elyria amongst others fielding reports of very similar incidents every week. 

An officer with the Parma Police Department claims they receive complaints of these calls daily. 

"These people are on fixed incomes you know who you're going after. There's no lower life form than these guys," Gerry's son, Ed Winter cautioned.

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