Exasperated Burien Widow Victim Of Mexico-Based Telephone Scam

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by Scott Schaefer

Just days after her husband passed away, a 75-year old Burien widow was the victim of a telephone scam, and she wants our Readers to know how she was recently duped into sending money to a man she “thought she knew, but didn’t,” in Nogales, Mexico.

During the first phone call, received Tuesday, Feb. 15, the man fished for information from the woman, speaking in Spanish and asking her excitedly, “you know who this is, right?” She guessed by mentioning the name of a Mexican relative, and he claimed that, yes indeed, he was that very same man, and that he was driving “all the way up from Mexico just to see” her.

The next day, the scammer called the woman’s daughter and told her he had been in an accident. She was initially convinced it was the relative, since her Mother had told her about the man’s first phone call the day before. The fact that the man didn’t speak any English didn’t arouse much suspicion, as the daughter chalked that up to his stress from being in an accident.

However, the relative that the scammer was claiming to be also speaks fluent English, yet this man didn’t – a definite red flag.

The man was able to convince them both that he had been in an accident. The scammer claimed that he had two checks in his possession – for $4,000 and $3,000 (US) – but that he couldn’t cash either until he crossed the border and found a US bank. He then asked her for money to pay for the repairs on the car he hit, initially asking for “a couple thousand dollars.” She said she didn’t have that much. He then asked how much she could send, and she told him $180. The man quickly agreed to that amount.

She then wired $180 via Western Union to a woman in Nogales, Mexico named “Georgina Zamora Palafox,” who the man claimed was the woman in the accident whose car he hit. Western Union has since confirmed that the person who claimed the money was indeed that woman, and that she used a matching picture ID.

Later that day, the scammer called back and asked her to send him more. The victim said she didn’t have any more to send, but that her daughter might be able to help.

The victim, now getting suspicious, called the alleged man’s Mother in Mexico City to confirm that the man was who he said he was. When his Mother told her that the man was not traveling, was at home with his wife, she realized she had been scammed.

The woman’s daughter also talked to the man and he gave her a phone number to call back. Since this scam has been revealed, the man dialed the victim back several times today. She didn’t answer her phone, but recorded the number from Caller ID. Burien Police were unable to be on the scene to answer any of his calls on Thursday (Feb. 17).

“This man is missing his calling,” the victim said. “He should be an actor! He simulated realistic stress and excitement over the alleged accident very well. He also simulated affection and concern for the loss of my husband and for the pain I was in.”

Burien Police have been contacted, and the victim will soon be contacting the state Attorney General and the FBI.

For more information on how to detect, avoid and report telephone scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website here, or the FBI’s here.

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