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Atherton's grandparent/money scam

Original post made by Melinda Tevis, Atherton: West of Alameda, on Apr 7, 2011

Tonight's channel 2 news at 10:00 had a long report with several interviews of Atherton residents who have been the victims of scam artists who had called their home phones pretending to be relatives in urgent need of money transfers due to fake emergencies. The sums of money that were lost apparently ranged from 3,000$ all the way up to 200,000$.
I believe that a Police automated call went out to all residents yesterday in advance of the press release, to warn everyone to have their guard up about similar requests to hastily wire out cash.

My own mother received just such a phone request from a non existent grandchild at least 9 or 10 months ago, and she worried that some one of her elderly friends might be more successfully taken advantage of. She asked me to call the APD to give them a "heads up" about the scam, and so I immediately dialed the non emergency number for the APD dispatch to relay our mutual concern. Dispatch was NOT interested in my call--they already "knew all about it and had already heard from my mother". My mother had made NO call to APD!! I worry that instead, some other elderly lady (or perhaps several) had phoned in to report similar experiences that day, and that dispatch did not take any of them seriously. I certainly was made to feel foolish for trying to help the APD to do what I thought their function was- and so for me the issue was just dropped. I regret that I did not bother to report my frustration with dispatch to Chief Guerra, although I believe I did leave a message for Gruber with no response.
If I had been bolder, or spoken up louder, or figured out who might actually listen--then maybe some of our residents could have been better protected from this than they were.
Maybe the APD's automated warning calls would have gone out a lot sooner.
I thought it was very brave and most commendable of the resident victims who came forward to be interviewed openly about their experience in order to protect their fellow citizens.

Comments (7)

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Posted by Appalling
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 7, 2011 at 5:25 am

It is shocking to me that lifetime resident Melinda Tevis, after being placed on a "do not respond" list by the Atherton Police under a prior regime, and then supposedly being taken off this list by Chief Guerra, was ignored by the Atherton Police Department because they have chalked her up to be a "crank".

NO CITIZEN MAKING A REPORT TO POLICE CAN BE IGNORED, no matter how critical they have been of the police department.

Chief Guerra has some explaining to do, both to the Town Council and to Ms. Tevis herself, on how this scam could have been avoided for all victims in Atherton had they only been willing to listen.

THIS IS THE REAL STORY BEHIND THE GRANDPARENT SCAM. It could have been avoided, but because of petty vendettas, the pleas for help were IGNORED by arrogance.

Mike Guerra, you should resign, and you should do so right now.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2011 at 7:04 am

I can confirm Melinda's report here because she discussed this subject with me at the time it happened. I am also aware of another resident who told me his parents received the same call and it was the same time Melinda is talking about 9-10 months ago.

I don't know if any warning went out to the Atherton residents at that time.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 7, 2011 at 10:38 am

This is really surprising. It looks like there was a canary in the coal mine, but dispatchers ignored her? Why??

Who supervises the dispatchers in Atherton anyway? Is it Guerra?


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Posted by Watching the watchers
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 7, 2011 at 10:44 am

John Mattes is the chief dispatcher. This guy is bad news. He's sued the town multiple times for additional money and gotten it every time. He's also on an existing law enforcement pension for being physically unable to do police work yet as been hired out as uniformed physical security by the Atherton police department in what is worker's compensation fraud. He carries a gun at all times to work even though he's a dispatcher.

He's also on a common board of directors with Glenn Nielsen. that's what's really scary.

No wonder the dispatchers have been told to ignore Melinda Tevis.


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Posted by John P Johns
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2011 at 11:16 am

I can confirm the comment of "Watching the watchers".

John Mattes was hired out as uniformed Atherton Police officer on special services duty at the request of an Atherton resident. He accompanied officers Dere and Yoakam in providing police protection during this private event.

The event occurred at 237 Atherton Avenue on Saturday, August 11, 2007.

At the time, it is my understanding that Mr. Mattes was receiving disability payments from the San Mateo County District Attorney's office. Additionally, it is my understanding that he was on limited duty as a result of a workers compensation claim he had filed recently.

The conduct of Mr. Mattes and the Atherton Police Department's response to the complaint I filed against Mr. Mattes for misuse of public funds is indicative of the lack of respect for the rule of law in the Atherton Police Department.


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Posted by pales in comparison
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm

The sad fact of the matter is that there are far more egregious examples of the failure of the Atherton PD to protect our elderly.


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Posted by enough
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 16, 2011 at 8:07 am

enough is a registered user.

This seems to be, yet another case for establishing on citizen-based, Police Department Oversight Committee. Depending on who's left standing after this most recently announced investigation of APD, a carefully chosen group of citizens to balance the power of APD is a must.


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