SOUTH RIVER, New Jersey (WABC) --Law enforcement calls it the "Grandma, it's me" scam. So convincing one grandparent spent $26,000 believing she was bailing her grandson out of jail with iTunes cards that are then sold on the black market.
Blanche Gregory remembers the frightening call she received. Posing as her grandson, the scammer said he had an accident. "He said grand mom, I'm in big trouble."
She assumed it was her daughter's oldest son, her grandson Kyle.
"He was very emphatic. He said please whatever you do don't tell mom," recalls Blanche.
He asked her to load up thousands of dollars onto iTunes gift cards. Blanche says she never had heard of iTunes cards. But the caller said he was in an accident and needed the money fast.
Worried, she shot straight to Rite Aid and CVS to purchase the cards. She bought $2,000 worth of gift cards at each store.
But instead of giving the caller the numbers on the back of the gift cards to access the 4 grand, Blanche did something very smart. She picked up the phone and called her grandson at school.
"He said what you are talking about, Grandma I'd never do that," said Blanche.
With that Blanche foiled the fraud. So hours after the purchase she went back to Rite Aid and CVS and asked for a refund.
"CVS did it (the refund) right away. And Rite Aid wouldn't budge," said Blanche.
Rite Aid's policy says no refunds on gift cards, but the policy also says it reviews all requests on a "case-by-case" basis.
But months after asking for a refund repeatedly, "They were making excuses about we have to talk to someone with more authority," said Blanche.
Blanche says this went on for 10 months and she almost gave up. That's when she saw her friend and South River neighbor John Scala on the news getting help from 7 On Your Side, when we helped him get his Korean War medals.
"I said it took him 62 years to get his medals and I only waited 10 months. I said maybe something can happen," said Blanche.
We asked Rite Aid to take a 2nd look and within a day: "I just started crying," said Blanche.
Blanche got her $2,000 refund from Rite Aid for the unused iTunes cards.
"Thank you so much 7 On Your Side. We love you."
A rep for Rite Aid says it's employees are trained to spot just this kind of fraud. Going forward, they will re-train employees at this location.
The takeaways: Don't stay on the call, even if they insist. Hang up and call the person back immediately to verify. And be very suspicious of anyone who asks you to load up gift cards or wire them money.
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