I got a text from my eldest brother today and that is really unusual so I knew something was wrong. Not someone died level of wrong, but wrong. Well, it's because my mother was involved in a scam and lost money. He had to intervene and it is A Thing.
Because it's texting and no one uses phones for phones anymore AND he was in the midwest for work, details were sketchy.
Other than "And she's embarrassed and doesn't want to talk about it. That will be a fun conversation when I get back."
I told Kevin about it and he was full of questions I didn't have the answers too so I texted my sister-in-law. (whom I adore and do not understand why she chose this family on purpose but I digress)
After the initial WTAF and I KNOW RIGHT texts, I just phoned her.
It's so bad. SO. BAD.
They recovered $8,000 today. $8,000. EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS
She lost...take a breath...take a drink...sit down...$10,000. TEN.
She fell for the Grandma I'm in Jail and Need Bail scam. She thought one of the nieces was in jail IN FLORIDA and needed bail money. This is so unlikely that I just can't understand how she fell for it. I mean, seriously unlikely.
No, wait. It gets worse.
She didn't phone anyone. Not my brother, my s-i-l, either of the nieces, ANYONE. My sister-in-law works for the POLICE DEPARTMENT. At some point in the beginning of this whole mess, my mom phoned the niece who was in "jail" BUT hung up on her. Niece checked with her sister and s-i-l to see if anyone had heard from her grandma. When the answer was no, Niece phoned back and apparently her grandma was all Hi, hey, what's up. Like nothing was wrong. I mean...what?
Instead of telling anyone, she went to the bank...during the pandemic and really shouldn't be driving anymore...and withdrew TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS CASH. She then drove to Fedex and sent it in a BOX, next-day-air to fucking Florida.
Then the next day - maybe a day later, she went to a different branch of her bank in another town, withdrew $8,000, boxed it up and took it to FEDEX to send it again.
Then the timeline gets a little fuzzy. I believe it was with this second withdrawal, the bank manager alerted my brother that she was making huge withdrawals and something was wrong.
He phoned her and she said it was for my other brother (who is a legit hermit miser) because he needed a tractor. WUT.
This is so implausible and such a bad lie. But my brother was reportedly "Umm, oh, okay..."
My niece...the one not in "jail" is a commercial banker. My brother phoned her, explained what was happening, and she left work to go investigate. (she works at a different bank)
At one point in this whole mess, Niece phoned her grandma who then became angry with her and told her "Why are you calling me? They got a hold of you too" and yelled at her. Niece went out to the house to find that my mom wasn't there. This is where Niece phoned the bank(s) and learned that she had just been there and was headed to Fedex.
Niece tried to catch her there while my brother phoned them and begged them not to send the box. They said they couldn't do anything, it had already been processed and he wasn't the Sender. Brother called my sister-in-law then she coordinated with the police chief and the sheriff's office to have Fedex return the box into their custody.
At the second branch location, the teller explained that she was blunt and abrupt with the mother, telling her that it was a scam but my mom would hear nothing of it. When she is in, what I call, That Mood, she is not to be messed with. (funny story: we think that teller is actually Kevin's cousin. Because: small town. Oh, and that branch is literally One Block from the Police Department, where my s-i-l works)
So, she's completely lost $10,000. There is nothing that can be done. Because in this state, she did this completely on her own and there is no provable fraud or law against it. IF she had sent a check or cashier's check or used her credit card, then it would be illegal. Instead, she's out $10,000. (Kevin's comment was "How in the @#$# does she have such easy access to almost $20,000!?!?")
Her accounts are frozen and Niece will be helping her with bills, etc. until my brother returns IN A WEEK. I am staying out of it. I will help if asked but I don't have it in me to wade into those waters.
While comparing notes with my sister-in-law, it turns out that the dementia the mom says she doesn't have is more advanced than either of us thought. She says that the house is a mess and there are papers strewn about, clothing left in the laundry, her bed unmade, etc. If you knew my mother, you would be AGHAST because for all her flaws, her house was always spotless.
We talked about how the Christmas tree was up but she didn't decorate it at all. I told her about my conversation with her when she talked lovingly and nostalgically about my dad and that's just not a thing. How she'll tell the same story about my aunt who does have dementia, every time we talk and sometimes more than once in one phone call. Then there's the whole new "Don't Tell Anyone" behavior that is happening. (remember the ambulance ride?)
My sister-in-law is exhausted and worried and sees what's coming for her and my brother in the future. She's pragmatic though and a lot like me. At one point she said about my mother "Don't test me, lady. I will take you out. And the brother apparently now has a tractor." It took me like three beats to get the joke then I nearly cried laughing.
Okay. Cleansing breath.
Simply: there is nothing to be done. The damage is done. We can only wait and monitor my mom, much like we do with Kevin's parents, and hope that nothing truly terrible happens. Other than the $10,000.
Raising parents is not for the weak. I know I keep saying it but Look at This Mess.