Couple scammed out of $7,000 wants to warn others
TOWER, Minn. - The season of giving is upon us, with many people looking to help others this holiday season. Among the kind-hearted givers you'll find Earl and Rosie Zimmerman from the small town of Tower, Minnesota.
"Giving was one thing I did most of my life," Earl says.
But instead of giving money, the couple is offering something else this holiday season, heartfelt advice.
"We don't want anyone else to get hooked with the same thing," Rosie says. "That's our goal."
The couple recently lost $7,000 in a phone scam, commonly referred to as "The Grandparent Scam."
The situation typically revolves around a grandchild who is in trouble with the law. The scammers contact the grandparents looking for bail money and won't give up until they get it.
That's exactly the situation Earl found himself in back on Nov. 9 when he got a phone call from a man who was posing as his grandson Adam.
"It sounded just like him," Earl says. "I couldn't believe it."
The scammer went on to explain how he had gotten into some trouble with a few of his friends and needed money to get out of jail.
Another scammer then got on the line, posing as a police sergeant.
"He was trying to help Adam out, because he didn't have a criminal record," Earl says. "He didn't want him to get a felony or be in jail."
The sergeant asked for $4,000 in bail money to get Adam out of jail. Per his instructions, Earl went out to Target and bought $4,000 in gift cards.
"I read the numbers to him over the phone," Earl says. "The next day I bought $3,000 more."
The scammer claimed to have found a minor offense on his grandson's record and decided to poach Earl for more money.
It was about that time that Earl's wife Rosie became suspicious.
"Adam called and we talked to him and he didn't know what the heck Earl was talking about," Rosie says. "I immediately called police."
Police told the couple it's unlikely they'll be able to get their money back, being that Earl had transferred the money through gift cards.
That's why the couple is now focusing on others.
"Maybe our story will help somebody else," Rosie says.
According to AARP, scams are more frequent this time of year. Besides the "Grandparent Scam," the organization also warns of other holiday related tricks.
They advise seniors to beware of holiday shopping scams that are too good to be true.
They also warn them to avoid online shopping while using public Wi-Fi.
AARP is also warning seniors about the "package delivery" scam.
They say it's common for scammers to send out fake packaging slips online that appear to be from UPS, FedEX or the United States Postal Service.
They suggest only typing in your name and address on reputable websites and to only give financial information to the retailer you're working with.
AARP also warns of fake charities looking for donations this time of year. They suggest researching the charity online first before making any donations.
For more tips, click here.
To help out the Zimmerman's, visit the family's GoFundMe page.