Palm Harbor woman bilked out of $12K to help fake granddaughter warns of sophisticated scheme

Better Call Behnken

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – Louann Hatch hopes you learn from her mistake and realize how easy it is to make such a mistake when you truly believe you need to help someone you love – like your granddaughter.

“All reasoning leaves you,” she said. “All reasoning is gone.”

Hatch is now out $12,000 and says she was tricked into willingly forking it over.

It all started with a phone call from someone pretending to be her granddaughter. They talked fast and sounded just like her granddaughter.

“The voice was hers, it was so hers,” Hatch said. “She said, ‘Grandma, grandma, can you keep a secret?’ And I said, ‘Sure, what’s up?'”

Here’s the gist of the scheme the “granddaughter” rattled off:

“‘A car hit me and I’m at the police station and I’m in trouble. The people were screaming. I think they’re hurt and my friend Ashley’s father is an attorney, can I turn you over to him and you can vouch for me?'” Hatch recalled being told. “I said, ‘of course, I will.’ That was the last I heard her voice until a few days later.”

The fake attorney had instructions to pay bail to get her granddaughter out of jail that day.

“He said ‘you go to the bank, you get the $12,000, you go to a postal place, you get a padded envelope – and it has to be padded – you get a box about the size of a shoebox. You come home, this is my cell number,'” Hatch said.

He sent a courier to her house – he must have been waiting nearby – to pick up the package.

Hatch estimates the whole scheme took about 45 minutes and her money was gone.

The phony lawyer told her to wait three days to call her granddaughter because of a court-appointed gag order involving the case of the person in the car accident.

But here’s what happened when she contacted her on the fourth day:

“I texted her and said, ‘do you want me to go with you Friday to court?’ And she texted back, ‘are we supposed to go somewhere?’ And that’s when I knew,” Hatch said. “We met here and we hugged and cried and called the police.”

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