Sean, Pop & the Hitman

by Daniel · 11 comments

Here is one to pass around if you will!

Early in the morning on Thursday December10, 2009 my dad got an alarming phone call.  The caller claimed to be my son Sean.  He actually called my dad “Pop” which is what he is widely known as by all.  He is a 74 year old burly Irishman that knows everyone in town.  The caller who my dad thought was his grandson Sean, said “hey Pop, I am in some trouble in Canada and I need your help!  I was with a friend and he had drugs in the car, I did not know about them and the police officer arrested us both. I need $5,000 to get bailed out”.

The young man on the phone said that my dad needs to call Sergeant Brower at the police station at (514) 652-7991 for the details and hung up.  Well my dad got worried and made the call.  He was told that he should go to Western Union and send $5,000 to bail bondsmen in the UK, Lucas Torres at120 Carson Avenue, London UK.

So my dad got in his car drove to Western Union and filled out the paperwork to wire $5,000 a total bill of $5,250!  But they refused the transaction due to the fact he was using a credit card.  They informed him he needed to go get cash.  So my dad drove to the bank to withdraw the money.  The bank asked him why he needed such an amount, so he told them.  The bank manager came over and discussed it with him and said this sounds fraudulent.  Did you call your son?

My dad simply said no I called the Sergeant I did not want to upset my son with this!  Fortunately, that stopped my dad in his tracks.  When my dad called me I was on the phone with Sean coincidentally.  I said Pop I just hung up with Sean he is in Florida working!

Well my dad went to the police, who did nothing they would not even take a report.  He is going to the local FBI office my dad is probably the only guy on Long Island that actually knows where it is, to file a report.  We traced the number to a Montreal prepaid cell phone.  We have no idea how they got the names correct, my dad as Pop and that he had a grandson named Sean!

My son filed an FBI report last night also.  The agent informed him that they have other complaints on file with the same number.  They call the tactic a form of the Hit-man Scheme, that is give us the money or else!  A form of kidnapping I presume.

I said to my dad what made you believe that Sean would get arrested like that?  He said, hell I had you and I got used to those calls 30 years ago! I wanted to print this to get the word out that one more scam exists and those of us in the recovery community are susceptible due to the fact that a family member may believe it to be true based upon the past.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue Callahan December 11, 2009 at 11:02 am

AS the mother of Sean, 1. I am outraged no ONE called me . I intend to also call FBI in my area. 2. I think it is a scam through the comptuers, and I have told Sean in the past I thought someone was on my site, and I told the FBI as recent as two months or so ago. I am mad…mad..mad….
Please call me Dan!

Nance L. Schick December 11, 2009 at 11:04 am

There’s an article on Snopes.com about this scam, which has been around since at least 2006:

http://snopes.com/fraud/distress/family.asp

With all of the geneology information available online now, it probably wouldn’t be difficult for a scammer to learn your relatives’ names. Snopes gives some good tips about verifying the caller’s identity. I am glad you were able to intercept your dad.

In the police department’s defense, they are under-equipped to deal with the masses of fraud such as this. Your dad was wise to go to the FBI. I hope they can help.

A friend and I were both contacted by scammers using the same scam but who found us on different websites. I couldn’t get the online FBI form to work, and I assume this is because of the masses of reports the agency gets. The likelihood of catching some of the scammers is slim, too, until enough people report them and they screw up.

In the meantime, people like you, me and those at Snopes will continue to spread the word and try to protect you.

daniel December 11, 2009 at 11:32 am

Thank you, I really never thought this was possible. My dad knows my sons voice but it scared him to think my son was in jail in another country. The good thing is tat when he went to the bank to withdraw the money the teller recognized that it was not normal for my dad to withdraw that amout of money and when she heard he was sending it to the UK she notified her supervisor. Great job. He was going to use his property tax money. That would have been terrible.

Thanks again.

daniel December 11, 2009 at 11:34 am

Hey I found out late in the day and it took a while to figure out what happened. I knew right away he was not in jail cause I was on the phone with him when the message came! No worries…

Victoria December 11, 2009 at 12:13 pm

I had to laugh when I read the part where Pop said that he had some experience with this type of thing from the past. A firm family understanding of which network of people to call to confirm this type of thing is important I believe, but that would require that family members come to terms with the possibility that the event (had it really taken place) would become more widely known within the family and might even upset some people. That’s the price of having a support network. As we discussed, a secret code or “handshake” verification, that only family members know could be a good way to prevent these things. The holidays would be a good time to establish those safe information practices. Thank you for sharing this with me, because it never would have occurred to me otherwise, and may prevent similar things from happening to my own family.

Carolyn December 11, 2009 at 6:00 pm

This has been going on here in Canada as well. I am glad your family is handling it in such a great way. It has caused much panic on the part of the victims and definitely needs to be stopped.

Martine Brennan December 11, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Hi Daniel, just glad to know your Dad is ok. This must have been so distressing for him.

G. Hernandez December 12, 2009 at 7:52 am

A friend of mine worked at moneygram and explained this scam to me. It is really terrible that people do this kind of crap. Lovers of money will get what they deserve.

Carol Adler December 12, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Dan, I’m so glad this was stopped in time. The information highway is lined with public beaches.

All the best,
Carol Adler, President/CEO
Dandelion Enterprises, Inc.

Sue Callahan December 13, 2009 at 12:26 pm

if the FBI doesn’t get them..God will..karma is a blip!

Lisa Yoss, December 14, 2009 at 11:02 am

This happened to our family as well. A relative who has a distant relationship with my son received a call just like the call your father received. One lives in Florida (the distant relative) my son lives in California. Awful experience for all. Hope something is done about this. I tried calling the number, but got voicemail.

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