2 elderly residents in Polk County scammed out of more than $65,000 | #scams | #elderlyscams
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Detectives in Polk County are warning residents after two Winter Haven women, both over the age of 80, were scammed and lost thousands of dollars.
In the first case, detectives said an 85-year-old woman received a phone call from someone claiming to be her son, saying he was arrested after a car accident.
“He gave her the name and number of his ‘lawyer,’” according to a Facebook post by the sheriff’s office. “She ended up making two separate cash withdrawals of $18,800, and handing it over to a ‘courier’ sent to her by the ‘lawyer.’ She eventually reached her son and realized none of that was true. Unfortunately, her money is gone.”
The victim notified the agency on March 13, detectives said.
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Ten days later, the daughter of an 83-year-old woman called the sheriff’s office after her mother withdrew $30,000 from the bank within two days.
“The elderly victim told her daughter that she was contacted by her ‘grandson’s attorney’ saying that the grandson had been arrested and needed bail money,” according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
However, that too was a scam, officials said.
“People who prey on victims like this are scum,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “These victims will likely never get their money back, even if we can identify and arrest the scammers. It just makes our blood boil.”
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office provided the following tips on how to avoid scams like this and encouraged relatives to share it with their loved ones:
- Don’t be ruled by emotions, and resist the pressure to act quickly.
- Contact a trusted family member who can confirm whether the caller’s story is true or not. Even if a story might seem true, verify its accuracy.
- Try contacting the real child or grandchild at a number you know is accurate.
- Remember, scammers ask for secrecy because they know if you call to verify, you’ll discover the scam.
- Ask questions of the caller that would be difficult for them to answer, like what is your mother’s birthday or what is your pet’s name.
- One tactic the scammers use is to ask, “Grandma?” at the beginning of the call; when the victim replies with, “Is this you [name of grandchild?]” the scammers answer “Yes,” proving that the scammers don’t even need real family members’ names to get away with this crime.
- Be stingy and don’t give the caller any personal information.
- Contact a trusted family member or friend before making any rash decisions concerning your money.
- Check on your elderly family members regularly.
- Family members and banking institutions: look for unusual bank transactions or withdrawals of elderly family members and customers. Ask questions and be vigilant for fraud.
- Immediately contact your financial institution if you find any unusual or unexpected deposits, transfers, or withdrawals.
- If you have detected any criminal or fraudulent activity, notify the company and/or banking institution where it happened. Also, notify the Federal Trade Commission and local law enforcement. www.ftc.gov
- Request a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax).
- Order online from www.annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports or call 1-877-322-8228.