UPDATE: Chalfant Couple Bilked in Phone Scam
The man and woman believed their son needed money but learned later that they'd been scammed.
Editor's note: This story has been updated.
The U.S. Postal Authority and Forest Hills police are investigating a scamming incident that bilked an elderly Chalfant couple of $14,000.
And Forest Hills police are hoping that others can avoid similar scams through the victims sharing their story. (Forest Hills police provide protection for Chalfant Borough.)
John and Lucille Boyce told a Forest Hills police officer that they received a call on Jan. 28 from a man who claimed to be their son, a South Carolina resident. The caller claimed to have been in an accident involving a driving-under-the-influence accident and said he needed $4,000, according to a police report.
John Boyce, believing his son was suffering from a cold, was instructed to purchase Green Dot MoneyPaks in denominations of $500 per card and mail them to Farmer's Insurance on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Boyce immediately went to his local bank, withdrew the $4,000 in cash and proceeded to the Forest Hills Rite-Aid Pharmacy to purchase the cards.
After making the purchase, Boyce mailed the cards to the California address from the East Pittsburgh post office.
On Jan. 29, Boyce received a second call from the man he believed was his son, who said the passenger in the car he was operating also needed $4,000 but could not obtain it until Jan. 30. The caller led Boyce to believe it was to be a termporary loan. Boyce again went to the bank, withdrew the money, purchased the cards and mailed them to Los Angeles.
When he arrived home, Boyce heard from the caller again, this time asking for $6,000 to cover attorney's fees. He repeated the procedure at the bank and store, but this time mailed them from the Turtle Creek post office.
All the calls were made from a phone number that did not belong to Boyce's son. Later on Jan. 29, Boyce's son called his parents and his father asked how he was doing. The son told his father they hadn't spoken in days. When Boyce realized he had been scammed, he called police.
Forest Hills officers contacted the U.S. Postal Police, who in turn had them contact the Postal Inspection Service, which put a plan in motion to intercept the mail in Los Angeles. The officers also contacted the local Rite-Aid to see if the cards could be cancelled electronically through Green Dot.
However, Forest Hills police learned during the investigation that Boyce had read off the 14-digit number to the scam artist after he purchased them, so Green Dot could not refund the purchase amount. However, Green Dot did agree to reimburse the Boyces $6,000 of their money.
On Feb. 5, the postal police informed Forest Hills that all three pieces of mail had been intercepted. The incident is still under investigation.