How can I help my grandma?
January 13, 2020 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Grandma married a scammer from another country and is now actively (hopefully unknowingly) taking part in wire/mail fraud. What do we do?

I previously asked a question about how to get grandma home from Nigeria after she flew overseas to marry a 27 year old. Long story short, she stayed in Nigeria, got married, came back to the States, and now is funding her husband from her minimal social security and retirement fund.

This morning we get a call from a woman whose grandmother has been sending my grandmother checks as part of an ongoing scam. This woman also reported my grandma to the FBI. I don't know how many other people she's receiving money from to send to her husband. My mother is going to call the woman this morning but what else can we do? Obviously we don't want to see grandma go to prison so any help would be appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Get a lawyer IMMEDIATELY, I mean, IMMEDIATELY and ask the mods to anonymize this and your previous post. Don't speak to the apparent victim until you've spoken to the lawyer.
posted by praemunire at 10:17 AM on January 13 [51 favorites]

Is the husband physically with her in the US or still in Nigeria?

[also do what praemunire suggests]
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:18 AM on January 13

(Also, if Gramma has any access to anybody else's money, cut it off NOW. If she's not already stealing from everyone she can, she will be shortly.)
posted by praemunire at 10:18 AM on January 13 [9 favorites]

nthing get a lawyer right away.
posted by mekily at 10:19 AM on January 13

Call AARP's Fraudwatch helpline.

posted by Don Pepino at 11:06 AM on January 13 [9 favorites]

Do not speak to anyone but a lawyer you are either sitting in a room with for a consultation or are paying. There are no other options. Do nothing else until you consult with a lawyer. Anyone giving you other advice is dead wrong. You have no idea who is legit on these phone calls and what's actually happening in this now.

Oh, and freeze all credit for yourselves if your grandma could have theoretically accessed any of your personal information.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:10 PM on January 13 [20 favorites]

I don’t know where you guys are in the process of your grandmom’s realization or not about how she has been taken advantage of but I agree with all of the above advice. Lawyer right away. Scammed people who are unwittingly scamming others have indeed gone to jail for the crime. I would not encourage her to talk to this other woman. It’s common to have “innocent” parties act as intermediaries in moving money around. I don’t know why they do this when they have a direct line though I imagine it’s simply routing payments in a way convenient or obscuring for the scammer. But you actually have no way of verifying this other woman’s identity or story. Talk to a lawyer about what to do with that woman’s info.
posted by amanda at 1:48 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

You have no idea who is legit on these phone calls and what's actually happening in this now.

Yes. For example, Ms "My mother has been sending your mother checks and we've reported it to the FBI" is just as likely to in on the scam as she is not.
posted by sideshow at 5:40 PM on January 13 [7 favorites]

I agree re talking to a lawyer. One of the things you should talk about is having Grandma found legally incompetent and having a guardianship established to control her money. There are lawyers that specialize in "Elder Law" that will know this area.
posted by Mid at 5:52 PM on January 13 [6 favorites]

Lawyer, and yesterday. And, if at all possible for your family and friends, raise the money to find a good one competent in this area of law. Spending the money sooner has way more leverage. In particular, if she's arrested and before she is arraigned, kick this into overdrive, so the lawyer is in action before the arraignment.
posted by alittleknowledge at 9:02 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

What everyone else said plus this: I am so sorry that you have found yourself and your family in this nightmare. Hang in there!
posted by Bella Donna at 6:40 AM on January 14

Yes, this is truly horrifying. I read the other link and can't even imagine. You're doing all you can.

Anyway, do not trust anyone on the phone unless you know they are who they say they are. That means if a lawyer you haven't talked to yourself calls... probably not a real lawyer! Same with law enforcement, etc. Scams can go so many layers deep if they find a good hook. Number spoofing is very easy so even if you googled the number that's calling you and it looked legit, it doesn't have to be. I could spoof calling you from any number with just a slight amount of work.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:09 AM on January 14 [5 favorites]

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