AKRON, Ohio (WKBN) – Scammers used a tragic crash in Akron that took the life of a local teacher’s son to take advantage of an elderly woman, police say.
On Tuesday morning, a fiery crash on Route 8 involving a gasoline tanker and car killed 18-year-old Jared Marcum, a student at the University of Akron.
Police say later that day, an 83-year-old Westlake woman got a phone call from a man claiming to be her grandson. He told her he’d been in an accident and was in trouble.
Investigators say a second man, who identified himself as the grandson’s public defender, got on the phone and told the woman her grandson was being blamed for the deadly crash and being held in jail on $18,000 bond.
After the woman told him she didn’t have that kind of money, the so-called public defender told her to meet him outside of a downtown Cleveland bail bonds company with $6,000 cash.
She said she wouldn’t do that, so they said there was a courier in the area who could stop by and pick it up from her.
She withdrew the money from her account.
“She’s kicking herself because she’s very with it,” said Gerald Vogel, with Westlake Police. “She relayed to us all of the things she does to protect her own identity. She knows about scammers, just this time, it got to her heartstrings and she was just worried about her grandson.”
After seeing new details Wednesday about the Route 8 crash, the woman contacted her grandson and asked about his release from jail. It was then that her family realized she’d been scammed.
As police try to identify the crooks who took advantage of her, they’re reminding everyone to discuss phone scams with elderly relatives, friends and neighbors.
“Don’t give personal information over the phone,” Vogel said. “If you have questions on a phone call you received, call the grandson, in this case. Give him a call and check out this story. If you need to, call your local police department.”