Sheriff warns of scammers impersonating family asking for money

FILE

GAFFNEY, SC (WSPA) – The Cherokee County Sheriff is warning of a scam where scammers pose as a grandchild asking for money.

The Sheriff says the scammers ask seniors to purchase debit cards at Walmart or other stores and to call them back with the card number.

The scammers usually have detailed information about the child or grandchild before making the calls. The information is being gathered from public sites or social media.

Sheriff Steve Mueller says one 89-year-old Cherokee County citizen was scammed out of $700 recently due to this scam.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office provided this detailed information on the scam:

Who wouldn’t help out a grandchild who was in trouble and needed money?

Con artists know that seniors are trusting, caring and generous. In fact, it is these very genuine qualities that tend to make seniors more vulnerable to a scam. And in one scam that has made the rounds, con artists are defrauding seniors all across the country by posing as children or grandchildren who are in a jam and need some financial help.

Here’s what you need to know about this scam to avoid becoming its next victim: This particular scam is initiated with a phone call, perhaps to exploit the fact that some seniors suffer from hearing loss.

“Hi, is this grandma?” the caller says. Momentarily confused, the victim may not exactly recognize the voice, but may assume they are talking to a child or grandchild. Using the name of one of their children or grandchildren, the victim may even say something to the caller like: “Is that you, Johnny?” When the caller responds “yes,” the hook has been set and the scam is in full motion.

Next, the caller will say that he or she is in some unspecified trouble and needs money — not a check, but cash, and they need it right away. The victim will be asked to go to Wal-Mart or other store purchase a debit type card and then return home, after returning home they instruct them to call a number back they have provided. They will then ask for the numbers off the card and they then drain the money off the cards once you give them the card details.

At this point, several red flags should go up warning that this could be a scam. For instance:

It should send up a warning flag when someone, even a family member, demands cash.

Again, it should send up a warning flag when someone, even a family member, sends you to purchase a card and ask you to call them with the card information.

Generally, the callers are vague about the details or exact nature of their financial problem, which should serve as a sign that they might have something to hide. Sometimes they pose as an officer and demand money to keep their loved one out of jail. They are often vague about the details but can tell you where your child or grandchild lives, works or goes to school.

Also, the caller’s instructions include a common element of most scams – secrecy. The caller asks the victim not to tell anyone about the conversation or the details.

Unfortunately, the criminals working this particular scam are very smooth and convincing, and victims usually fail to pick up on any of the warning signs. After waiting hours, or in some cases days, victims have called their child or grandchildren to ask if they had received the money. Naturally, the children or grandchildren didn’t know anything about the money, and the victims realized they had been scammed and called the Sheriff’s Office.

Get fooled by this scam, and it will be costly. If you receive a call like this, there are several things you can do. First, tell the person claiming to be your child or grandchild that you must go and that you will call them right back. Then, call your child or grandchild to find out whether this is a scam. Or you can simply hang up the phone. Please never send money in any form to someone you cannot verify the truthfulness of the claims. If in doubt please come to the Sheriff’s Office and let us call these people to give you peace of mind. Never trust anyone over the phone, if you did not initiate the phone call then treat any such phone calls as a scam.