TAMPA — Once again, Hillsborough County detectives are looking for help from Uber in solving a scam that bilked big money ― in one case, $700,000 — from elderly grandparents.
In the latest con, a 75-year-old North Tampa man was contacted by someone claiming to be an attorney representing his granddaughter who was in legal trouble, according to court records.
In a scenario familiar to investigators called the “grandparent scam,” the man was convinced to withdraw $10,000 on May 11 to bail the granddaughter out of jail. He originally was instructed to go to a bail bonds business, but then was told someone would come for the money via Uber. A silver Toyota with an Uber plate on the front dashboard picked up the cash, according to a search warrant.
Uber confirmed a trip to the man’s address, according to court records. The search warrant, signed by a Hillsborough judge, seeks further information about who purchased the ride and where the money traveled.
“Uber strictly prohibits the use of the Uber app to commit crimes and regularly works with law enforcement to assist with investigations,” said an Uber spokeswoman via email to the Tampa Bay Times. “We have been working with the Hillsborough County Sheriff on this case in accordance with our Law Enforcement Guidelines.”
It isn’t the first time local detectives turned to Uber to try to solve a grandparent scam.
In October, the Times reported the case of Anna Nunn, 82, who lives in the suburbs outside of Tampa and lost $700,000 ― much of her life savings — this summer, according to a lawsuit.
A woman who called pretending to be Nunn’s granddaughter and a man using the name of a local lawyer convinced her to make 13 withdrawals from branches of BB&T bank.
The story of the granddaughter’s legal woes got more elaborate, according to Nunn’s attorney, and ended when she ran out of money.
Hillsborough detectives have sought Uber records about pickups at Nunn’s home when she was giving bricks of cash to couriers as instructed by the scammers. Investigators said they wanted the Uber account holder’s name and credit card information and pick-up and drop-off locations.
Nunn is suing the bank, now Truist, alleging negligence for allowing her to continue making unusual withdrawals even after red flags were raised. After the Times reports, her case made national and international news.
From Tampa Bay Times, reported by Hannah Critchfield