When fraud turns fatal — Uber driver shot after ‘grandparent scam’ call

Bob Sullivan

When consumers and criminals interact, you just never know how combustible a situation can become. A recent story out of Ohio is a reminder that any scam can get very serious and lead to devastating consequences.

An Ohio man who had been communicating with criminals attempting to commit a “grandparent scam” shot and killed an Uber driver that he said he believed was part of the scam; he has been indicted for murder and pleaded not guilty.

Police say 81-year-old Michael Brock told them he had spent hours talking on the phone with someone who claimed that his nephew was in jail and needed bail money. Brock allegedly believed that Lo-Letha Hall, 61, had come to his house to pick up the money. He accused her of being part of the scam, and when she tried to leave, he fatally shot her.

Local news reports indicate Hall was an Uber driver simply picking up a package for what she thought was a normal delivery.

“Upon being contacted by Ms. Hall, Mr. Brock produced a gun and held her at gunpoint, making demands for identities of the subjects he had spoken with on the phone,” the sheriff’s office said, according to the Associated Press. Hall was unarmed and unthreatening, the sheriff’s office alleges in that story. A video posted on a local news site shows her walking away from Brock as he threatens her with a gun.

“I’m sure glad to see you guys out here because I’ve been on this phone for a couple hours with this guy trying to say to me I had a nephew in jail and had a wreck in Charleston and just kept hanging on and needing bond money,” Brock said to police, according to the Associated Press. “And this woman was supposed to get it.”

According to a memorial page set up for Hall, she was retired.

Whenever I speak in front of cybersecurity and fraud groups, I try to remind them how important their work is. There are plenty of reasons to take cybersecurity and financial fraud seriously — even crimes that might seem like common thefts can turn very serious, or be part of wider conspiracies. Even though it can feel exhausting and at times fruitless, all of us must continue the fight against scams and cybercrime.

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