PENN HILLS (KDKA) — An old telephone scam may have resurfaced, but, then again, maybe it never really left.
This time, Penn Hills Police are investigating fraudulent phone activity.
Ed Mroz, of Penn Hills, says he received an unsolicited phone call on Monday from someone claiming to be a lawyer. The caller told Mroz that his grandson, Mitchell, was in trouble and in jail because the car he was driving had hit a rental car, causing $4,000 damage.
The caller said Mroz had to pay for the damage in order for his grandson to be released from custody and he could buy gift cards to bail Mitchell out.
“I just wanted to get him out of jail,” Mroz said. “I asked him how my grandson’s car was. He said all the damage was done to the other car he hit, and he was arrested because he was texting on his phone, and he could only make one call and he called you, he said.”
The 79-year-old Mroz drove to the Best Buy Store in Monroeville and purchased three gift cards, each worth $1,600. He called the phone scammer back, gave him the card serial numbers, and then called his daughter.
“My father said, ‘Jennifer, I love you, and I’m not supposed to tell you this, but Mitchell is in jail, and I have to get money to bail him out,’” Jennifer Mroz-Tomer said. “We went back and fourth for a little bit, and I finally called him, and I said, ‘Wait a second, what do you mean you have to get gift cards? That doesn’t sound right.’ I’m just doing what the lawyer told me to do.”
Mroz-Tomer quickly called Best Buy, and canceled the gift cards.
Mroz and his daughter called Penn Hills Police. When an officer came to his house, he told them that this wasn’t the first time police have been told about a phone scam like this one.
As for the three Best Buy gift cards, Mroz-Tomer said, “There were no charges put on the cards, but they obviously had those numbers, so they were waiting to use them.”
Meanwhile, Best Buy is going to replace the card.
“They were kind enough, they are going to send out replacement cards. So, he’s not necessarily going to get his cash back, but he does get his money back, at least they didn’t rip him off for $4,000, thank God.”