ATLANTA — A mother grieving over the shooting death of her son said she was hurt all over again when someone tried to use her loss to scam her.
“I don’t know why anybody would want to mess with somebody and they’re grieving,” Teresa Houston told Channel 2s Tom Jones.
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Someone shot and killed her son, James “Dionte” Houston, Feb. 17 at the Appletree Townhomes on Campbellton Road.
“I don’t know why anybody would do this to James,” Houston said.
Houston said she was really in a bad shape over Dionte’s death when she got a call from someone who said they were with Atlanta Victim Assistance.
“He said, ‘We gonna help you. We got a package for $6,500 coming to you,” Houston said.
She needed that money to pay for Dionte’s funeral. Houston said the person on the phone wanted personal information like her son’s Social Security number. He also said Dionte’s body was at Grady Memorial Hospital. When Houston became excited about the expected windfall, she said the caller said he would reach back out to her to finalize the payment.
Houston said that’s when she got a call from the medical examiner.
“He said, ‘Ms. Houston?’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Your son still here at the coroner’s office,’” Houston said.
Houston said she felt like someone was trying to scam her.
Jones wanted to know what was going on, so he reached out to Atlanta Victim Assistance. A spokesperson said they never mention the location of a body to any family member and said they only require personal information after families apply for funds.
Jones called the number that Houston said called her. The person who answered said it was an “outreach ministry.” That person said the man who called Houston was not there. He said no one there should ask victims for personal information or offer them thousands of dollars. And he said they don’t have information about where bodies are located.
“We don’t do anything like that,” the man said.
Houston said she was reeling from her son’s death and can’t imagine why someone would want to take advantage of her at her worst possible moment.
“I promise you I just don’t understand why would anybody do that to me,” she said.
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The person who answered at the outreach ministry said he would have the person who called Houston call Jones.
Houston has set up a GoFundMe to help with expenses after her son’s death.
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