PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – The families of members of the military would do anything to protect their loved ones serving overseas. At least that’s what criminals have discovered.
The tears roll down when Linda Tramel thinks about her grandson Tyler serving his country in Iraq.
Much of the 69-year-old’s widow’s life involves keeping up with his adventures which is why a recent phone call made her heart sink. “He was found in a vehicle containing drugs he was being charged with possession”
A man claiming to be an attorney at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico told Tramel that her grandson used a few days off to travel there and got arrested.
“Obviously Tyler’s in the Army and if they find that out and they report that to the US government that’s going to cause problems.”
That fear led Trammell to wire $2,600 that the caller said would make the charge go away.
After urgently wiring the money Tyler’s grandmother went to her computer on Facebook. He replied he was fine and on a mission with his unit near Baghdad.
In fact, the area code on the calls Tramel received showed they originated from Montreal, not Mexico City.
“It was a scam. I’ve been taken and my money’s gone,” said the grandmother. “My main source of income is Social Security, and what little funds I have to live on I don’t have $2,600 to get beat out of.”
To make matters worse, the calls keep coming.
Trammel doesn’t send any more money but is outraged that the personal information of military families could be so easily accessible. “I’m his grandmother how did they put him and me to call me.”
Jeffrey Shaffer with the U.S. Secret Service says social media sites put military families at risk.
“If a large deployment occurs and it makes the news then obviously criminals may realize that people are gone that maybe easier to target the families they use the social media sites to communicated overseas and its going to be the sites where they harvest the information.”
Tramel doesn’t expect to ever get her money back. But she wants to protect others who are cut off from sons and daughters oversees from those who are finding a way to take advantage of it.
“I’m a grandmother. I hyperventilated, I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I couldn’t breathe and all I could think of is not letting my grandson remain in a Mexican jail for a month.”