Emmitt Sapp, 77, and his 70-year-old wife Margarita Sapp, of northeast Harris County, said they are beyond embarrassed after they were duped into handing over a third of their retirement savings to criminals.
Believing their 26-year-old granddaughter was hurt and in legal trouble, they said they let their emotions get the best of them, without asking the right questions, which is something the criminals were counting on.
1. How were the Sapps’ contacted?
They received a phone call back in February from a woman claiming to be their 26-year-old granddaughter, who is in the United States Army stationed in North Carolina.
2. What did she say?
The woman told the Sapps’ she’d been in a wreck, hit a pregnant woman after she’d been drinking and needed $3,000 bail money. She explained that she was calling from a different number because her cellphone had been damaged in the wreck.
She said she had a busted lip and injured her nose and that it was difficult for her to talk.
3. How did the Sapps’ respond?
After they talked to a man claiming to be their granddaughter’s attorney, they wired the $3,000 to a bank account in Massachusetts. Emmitt and Margarita Sapp say were then told the pregnant woman’s baby died as a result of the wreck and if their granddaughter wanted to avoid manslaughter charges they needed to send more money to cover the woman’s medical bills.
They did so over a three day period. When all was said and done, they sent a total of $20,000.
4. How did the couple realize they’d been victims in a fraud scheme?
The Sapps’ say the man pretending to be the attorney told them he would refund the $3,000 in bail money. When they called the number they’d been given, it had already been disconnected.
5. Who’s investigating the case?
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office Financial Crimes Unit. The Sapps’ said they’ve been told this is a Nigerian scheme and that some of the players live in the New York area. Investigators say the phone number that the Sapps’ were given is registered to a 20-year-old young man.
No one has been arrested or charged in the scheme. The Sapps’ said they wanted to share their story so that what happened to them doesn’t happen to anyone else.