VARIATIONS ON GRANDPARENTS SCAMS
The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office has investigated two cases in the past two weeks that were variations of the "Grandparents Scam,” according to Sheriff David Harvey.
The Grandparents Scam begins with telephone calls to elderly citizens telling them that they have loved ones, usually grandchildren, behind bars in Canada that need financial assistance. During the scam, the caller poses as law enforcement and tells the victim that the family member has been arrested and needs money to bail them out.
In Wakulla County in 2010, an elderly victim was contacted using the scam and lost $2,500 after she sent the money to help someone she thought was her grandchild. She allowed the criminals to get away with her money, according to Det. Drew Vass of the WCSO Fraud Unit.
Det. Vass said the variation of the scam includes a telephone call informing the potential victim that he/she has won a lottery and a Mercedes Benz vehicle. The caller told two Wakulla citizens that they wanted to deliver the automobile personally, but requested the potential victims purchase two $500 gift cards and wait for additional instructions.
Det. Vass said the caller usually has a heavy accent and is calling from oversees. In the most recent case, the potential victim purchased the gift cards as instructed but refused to give the caller the identification numbers on the back of the cards when requested. The caller became angry when the resident refused to give the gift card numbers and told her she no longer qualified for the bogus lottery winnings. The appointment to meet to turn over the Mercedes was also bogus. Wakulla detectives are still investigating the two cases with the help of the potential victims who did not fall for the scam.
“These callers target our elderly,” said Det. Vass. “We recommend that senior citizens not talk to these people at all. They are masters of deception and eventually they will wear you down.”
The last two potential victims did not fall for the scam because the sheriff’s office meets periodically to speak at the Wakulla County Senior Citizens Center to keep elderly informed about the latest scam attempts.
The detectives will serve lunch to the senior citizens on Friday, Feb. 25 at 11:30 a.m. at the center, 33 Michael Drive in Crawfordville. The sheriff’s office will also distribute flyers warning of potential scams and briefly discuss the latest issues with seniors.
“The best thing you can do is tell everyone you know about the scams and get the word out,” Det. Vass added. “They (seniors) learned from experience without suffering any losses. Pass this information on to anyone you know and be wise and cautious on the phone.”
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