Florida woman loses over $700,000 in ‘grandparent scam’
TAMPA, FL (AP) — Investigators are asking Uber for records as they investigate the theft of more than $700,000 from an 82-year-old Florida woman who apparently fell for a “grandparent scam.”
Over the summer, the scammers convinced the woman that her granddaughter was in legal trouble and needed her help. They told her to make withdrawals from her bank and hand the money over to a courier, according to court records in the case.
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s investigators have asked Uber about rideshare pickups at the woman’s home between April and August. They want the name of the Uber account holder, and credit card information, along with the history of pickups and drop-offs at various locations, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
A detective wrote in court records that these details “will assist with providing information to who purchased the rideshares and where the victim’s funds actually went,” a detective wrote in court records.
The woman told investigators she did not arrange for the rideshares.
An Uber spokeswoman told the newspaper on Wednesday that the company is in touch with the Sheriff’s Office to help with the investigation.
It was not clear whether the rides were for couriers to come to the woman’s house to get the cash, and the sheriff’s office declined to clarify that point, citing an ongoing investigation, the Times reported.
The woman received the first call from a young woman, claiming to be her granddaughter. She said she had been in a car accident and needed money to get out of jail, according to court records. A man who claimed to be the granddaughter’s lawyer then took the phone and spoke to the woman.
They convinced the woman to make 13 withdrawals from different branches of BB&T Bank, ending at $100,000 when she ran out of money, the newspaper reported.
Guy Burns, the woman’s attorney, said the scammers’ story kept getting more elaborate as the weeks went on.
As the weeks dragged on, the scammers convinced the woman to tell anyone at the bank who inquired about the withdrawals that the money was for home improvements. And that her contractors preferred to be paid in cash.
They also told the woman how to wrap the bricks of money in padded envelopes for the courier who would pick it up.
The woman’s lawyer filed a civil lawsuit in September against Truist Bank, created when BB&T merged with SunTrust, court records show. They allege negligence for letting the woman make large and unusual withdrawals even after red flags were raised.