'I knew he was a real scammer. I just knew he wasn't going to scam me,' she said.
A "bored" grandmother from Long Island decided to have some fun on Thursday when she received a bizarre phone call from a man claiming to be her grandson. The man on the phone told the 73-year-old Seaford woman—who asked to only be identified by her first name, Jean—that he was in a car accident and had gotten arrested for drunk driving. He needed to be bailed out of jail, the "grandson" claimed, and needed Jean's help getting out. While many others would've fallen for the emotional appeal, the grandmother-of-seven instantly knew it was a scam thanks to one simple but important detail: her grandsons are far too young to drive.
I despise people who prey on old folks. If you'd like a dose of schadenfreude, check out this lady who turned the tables on a dude pretending to be her grandson. I am in awe of her body language as she saunters onto the porch to watch the takedown. Respecthttps://t.co/VdjcleiSwb— Vaccinate Your Kids (@robfardon) January 25, 2022
"I knew he was a real scammer," Jean told CBS2 in a TV interview. "I just knew he wasn't going to scam me." Rather than hanging up on the caller like she'd done when dealing with scammers on many occasions before, this time, the former 911 dispatcher decided to play along to see if she could catch him to keep him. "He starts calling me 'grandma,' and then I'm like, I don't have a grandson that drives, so I knew it was a scam," the quick-thinking senior said.
Long Island Grandma Lures Phone Scammer to Her Home, Where She Has Police Waiting: 'Gotcha!' https://t.co/tQWBILdHqn— People (@people) January 24, 2022
According to a statement from the Nassau County Police Department, Jean then spoke to a second man claiming to be her grandson's lawyer who said they needed $8,000 for bail. "I played stupid grandma. 'Oh my poor grandson,' I told the guy. 'Please don’t tell his mother,'" she told NBC New York. In the midst of several calls back and forth with the alleged "grandson" and his "lawyer," Jean hatched an ingenious plan to catch them red-handed. "I told him I had the money in the house, and I figured, he's not going to fall for that. Well, he fell for that hook, line and sinker," she said.
This is not the grandma that we deserve— Fr. Robert R. Ballecer, SJ (@padresj) January 24, 2022
... but she is the grandma that we need right now.
A third man she spoke to, claimed to be a bail bondsman nearby who could pick up the money and Jean was happy to invite him home. She then texted her daughter and best friend—both of whom reportedly work at a 911 call center—and they immediately alerted police about the ongoing scam attempt. Not long after, a man in a beanie, a camel-colored coat and dark pants arrived at her doorstep to collect the "bail" money. Ring security-camera footage from Jean's home shows her quickly handing over an envelope (which was stuffed with paper towels) and the man turning around to walk away. Little did he know, two Nassau County police officers who were waiting inside Jean's front door, waiting to catch him in the act.
Even before the man—since identified as 29-year-old Joshua Estrella Gomez—could take a few steps away from the door, one of the police officers tackled him on the front lawn and arrested him. Gomez has been charged with attempted grand larceny and is scheduled to appear in court on February 3. Police are now trying to determine whether Gomez worked with others and if he has done this before. "Speak to your families. Speak to your neighbors. Visit those that are vulnerable. Let them know, don't listen to these scams," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. "These individuals sit at home and have nothing else to do but think of a way to take advantage of our elderly."
Meanwhile, Jean—who was a Nassau County 911 dispatcher for over 20 years—said she felt vindicated by her ability to stop an alleged predator. "I feel like, 'Gotcha!'" she said. "So many people fall for this and you only hear about it on the other end after they've lost $8,000." Jean hopes her story will serve as a cautionary tale for others and is glad no one was hurt in the process. "Bored grandma: one. Bad guy: zero," she added.