Quincy Cabdriver Halts ‘Grandparent Scam’ that Swindled $4K from 87-year-old Woman

A Quincy cab driver was praised by police for helping an 87-year-old woman who was being scammed out of thousands of dollars’ worth of gift cards she bought.

Richard Spencer, a driver for Yellow Cab, picked up the woman to drive her to Walmart, according to Quincy police in a statement posted to Facebook.

During the trip, the woman told Spencer that she needed to buy gift cards for her grandson because he was in trouble. Spencer recalled that another cab driver told him that he had taken the same woman to another store in Quincy earlier Wednesday to buy a pair of $2,000 gift cards, Spencer said in a phone interview.

Spencer, 60, said he believed the woman was being scammed and took her instead to Quincy police. She told officers that a man claiming to be her grandson called her and reported he was in an auto accident, police said.

The caller told the woman he “needed the victim to send him gift cards so he would not go to jail,” according to police. The caller gave the woman instructions to call a cab, go to buy two gift cards, call him back, and give him the numbers on the cards, police said.

“This, ladies and gentlemen, is a text-book ‘Grandparent Scam.’ While the victim in this scam may be out $4,000 (which is a substantial amount of money), it could have been much, much worse,” police said on Facebook.

Quincy police asked cashiers to be mindful if they see an elderly person buy gift cards with a large amount of money.

The “Grandparent Scam’ is among the scams and fraud schemes discussed in the online training modules for CU Senior Safeguard, offered by the Cooperative Credit Union Association on its consumer website, bettervalues.betterbanking.com. The program provides seniors and their care givers the information they need to know to ward off this growing trend of exploitation impacting seniors. The certification provided by this program for credit union employees throughout the Association supports requirements outlined in the Senior Safe Act to allow credit unions safe harbor when possible elder financial abuse is detected.