Strangers help elderly couple swindled out of money

Andrew Robinson
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There was a fortunate turn of events for an elderly couple forced to pay damages in a plot that allegedly involved a person impersonating a police officer

Donna Ryan

A couple from the Conception Bay North area was contacted by a woman who claimed they were at fault for damage to her vehicle. The elderly man wasn't entirely convinced, given there was also damage to the hood of the vehicle. He refused to pay.

He learned a complaint was filed with the RCMP detachment in Harbour Grace, but was also told police wouldn't get involved if the accident involved a minor amount of damage.

Later, he received a call from a person claiming to be an officer with the Bay Roberts RCMP detachment who said if he didn't pay the couple $250, he could be charged with a hit-and-run offence. The man on the phone did not give his name. Spurred on by his wife, who wanted the matter to go away, he gave the money to the woman.

Donna Ryan of Spaniard's Bay was at the detachment in Bay Roberts on Dec. 17 to report an accident when the man was sharing this story, but did not speak with him directly at that time. She told The Compass an officer who spoke with the man said anyone from the detachment would have to identify himself by name when talking to a civilian.

"I felt really bad," Ryan said, noting the man lives in a senior's home and has a monthly allowance that falls below the amount paid to the woman.

"When I came home that night, I was sitting here and I said to (my husband) Paul, 'We ended up with $3,000 in damage on our car. That's nothing compared to the $250 he lost.'"

When she got home, Ryan relayed this tale on Facebook and watched as over 140 people shared it. Talk turned to finding a way to help the man, and Ryan herself agreed to contribute the first $20. By the end of the night, family and friends collected the full $250.

Ryan's post managed to find its way to the man himself - his daughter saw what she wrote and brought it to his attention. He called her two days later to tell her he was overcome with emotion upon reading what she wrote.

"He was in tears crying," she said. "I said, 'You really broke my heart when I knew that you were being scammed.'"

That evening, she had the $250 fully collected along with a care package, but couldn't track the couple down.

Oddly enough, Ryan's sister-in-law took a call at the family's home the next day from the man thanking Ryan for dropping off the money. It turned out her post inspired someone else to leave an anonymous $250 donation for the man at the seniors complex where he lives.

She finally tracked him down at a church service to drop off the money and care package. He was surprised to learn it wasn't Ryan to previously left the money for him.

As it turns out, the $250 he gave to the woman is typically money he and his wife save up during the year to give to others in need. All things told, they were now in a much better position than before to do just that.

"He touched a lot of people's lives, that's for sure," said Ryan. "They're a very lovely couple."

The Compass attempted to contact the man in question, but he could not be reached for comment. To respect his privacy, The Compass is not publishing his name.

Organizations: RCMP, The Compass, Ryan's

Geographic location: Bay Roberts

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Recent comments

  • Georgina Cranw Wells
    January 10, 2016 - 02:00

    Donna and Paul, this gesture of goodwill does not surprise me in the least, your hearts are so big. God Bless you and all that helped this couple out, what a wonderful story.

  • Kathy and Gary Gillam
    January 09, 2016 - 17:24

    Donna and Paul, This kindest from each of you and your friends and family is a warm, hearted news item to share have been responsible for. You make the world a better place. Thank you.

  • Joan Hiscock
    January 09, 2016 - 11:38

    There you have it. "Uncaring" Newfoundlanders at their best. What a wonderful thing to do for this couple. I hope they find the scammer and bring them face to face with the couple to apologize to them.