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    Quincy police credit cabdriver with stopping ‘grandparent scam’ that swindled $4,000 from 87-year-old woman

    A Quincy cab driver was praised by police last week for helping an 87-year-old woman who was being scammed out of thousands of dollars worth of gift cards she bought.

    Richard Spencer, a driver for Yellow Cab, picked up the woman on Wednesdayto drive her to Walmart, according to Quincy police in a statement posted to Facebook.

    During the trip, the woman told Spencer that she needed to buy gift cards for her grandson because he was in trouble. Spencer recalled that another cab driver told him that he had taken the same woman to another store in Quincy earlier Wednesday to buy a pair of $2,000 gift cards, Spencer said in a phone interview.

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    Spencer, 60, said he believed the woman was being scammed and took her instead to Quincy police.

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    “I have an 87-year-old mother myself, and it’s a scumbag crime to be doing,” Spencer said.

    She told officers that a man claiming to be her grandson called her and reported he was in an auto accident, police said.

    The caller told the woman he “needed the victim to send him gift cards so he would not go to jail,” according to police. The caller gave the woman instructions to call a cab, go to buy two gift cards, call him back, and give him the numbers on the cards, police said.

    “This, ladies and gentlemen, is a text-book ‘Grandparent Scam.’ While the victim in this scam may be out $4,000 (which is a substantial amount of money), it could have been much, much worse,” police said on Facebook.

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    Police praised Spencer for his actions.

    “Thank you Mr. Spencer for caring. You could have chosen to remain silent and ignore the signs. But you didn’t. And for that we say THANK YOU,” police said on Facebook.

    Police are investigating the incident, Quincy police Sergeant Karyn Barkas said.

    Quincy police asked cashiers to be mindful if they see an elderly person buy gift cards with a large amount of money.

    “Ask questions. Sure, there may be a legitimate reason, but if you take the time and ask the questions, you just might prevent someone from falling victim,” police said.

    John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.