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Grandparent scam: London, Ont., senior beats fraudsters not once, but twice


It was a typical Tuesday for Mabel Beharrell, 84, until she got the call that would turn her world upside down. Her teenaged grandson was in trouble and needed her help.

“I have grandchildren, and it just kills me to think that something like that is happening to them,” she said. “And I would do anything to help my grandchildren.”

The story was that 16-year-old Mitchell had been out driving with friends when they were pulled over by the police. Drugs were found in the car and Mitchell ended up in jail.

“He said, ‘I need $8,000 to get out of jail today,’” explained Mabel.

She then found herself speaking to someone who claimed to be an RCMP constable.

Before long, she felt something was amiss.

“I said, ‘Look, I want my grandson’s last name’ and he repeated himself. I said, ‘I am not going to say anything to you until you give me my grandson’s last name.’ He got mad and hung up the phone,” said Mabel.

She then reached out to her son, David Beharrell, who confirmed that Mitchell was safe at home, sparing herself both money and heartache.

But this was not the first close-call for Beharrell. Approximately one year earlier, she received the same type of call from someone who sounded just like her grandson Mitchell, and whom she believed him to be.

Mabel Beharrell of London, Ont. proudly points to pictures of her grandchildren on March 28, 2024. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)Much like this latest incident, she found herself talking with someone who claimed to be from the RCMP. The fraudsters needed $10,000 of Mabel’s money to release her grandson.

When she explained she didn’t have that much they reduced the amount to $7,500.

They even went so far as to send her a taxi, which she took to the bank. She was just about to go inside and send the would-be fraudsters the money when something came over her.

“And I don’t know what made me think about it, but I said to the cab driver, ‘Who’s paying for this cab?’ And he said I was. I said, ‘Oh no I’m not. I’m not paying for you. I didn’t call for you.’”

She ended up taking the taxi home and paying a reduced fare of $20, as the U-Need-A-Cab driver recognized the elderly woman had been victimized.

It was a small price for Mabel to pay, rather than parting with $7,500.

She has escaped the fraudsters twice now, but son David worries the next time it happens she might not have her wits about her like she did these last two times.

“She worked for her money,” said David. “She shouldn’t have to give it away like that. Like you know, for scammers. Like these scammers, they should be all locked up as far as I’m concerned. They’re scamming people.”

84 year old widow Mabel Beharrell speaks to CTV News London about nearly becoming victim in a grandparent scam on March 28, 2024. (CTV News London) London Police Service Det. Sean Harding, with the Financial Crimes Unit, said three in 10 fraud victims are re-victimized.

Harding said it’s perfectly OK to hang up when you get a call asking for money.

“Do not engage them in conversation,” said Harding. “They’re professionals. They know what they’re doing. They know how to convince you. They’re called conmen for a reason.”

Harding advises employing in the so-called 10-and-two rule, which allows for a second and third opinion and a sober second thought before parting with your money.

“Whenever there’s a request for money, no money goes out until you wait 10 minutes and talk to two people. It’s just a really great way to recognize that a fraud could be occurring,” he explained.

As for Mabel, it’s been an upsetting experience that she’s still trying to get over.

She hopes other seniors can learn from her ordeal.

“I tell you sir, I got so sick I couldn’t even get out of bed. Today I’m feeling a little bit better, but I’m still off balance,” she said. Top Stories

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