Scammers are at it again. This time they’re targeting grandparents around the Upstate. Clemson Police have had several calls from people who lost thousands of dollars to thieves, who posed as loved ones or law enforcement.
“Anyone can be scammed under the right circumstances,” said John Witmer, phone scam victim.
Imagine you get a phone call and it’s a family member panicked, saying they’re in trouble with the law and need your help to get out of jail. Then a member of law enforcement gets on the line telling you how you can help.
“Their number one concern at that point is just to try to take care of their family. So they rush out really without giving it a second thought and did what he was told to do,” Detective Mike Arflin, Clemson Police, explained.
That’s how Clemson Police say scammers have gotten thousands of dollars from elderly victims in the upstate in the last week. They’re told to put bail money on a reloadable gift card and to read the card numbers over the phone.
“He said don’t worry about it. We will take care of everything. We will take care of everything,” Witmer recalled.
John Witmer has heard of the scam and was recently cheated out of over $2,000 over the phone himself. But in his case, it was a cruise line calling. He was told he could take a birthday trip with his wife and that they would handle the preparations, as long as he paid.
When he realized he couldn’t do it because of his wife’s health, he called to cancel. After no returned calls, he finally got a cancellation notice with a 2 thousand dollar fee.
“I’ve heard about a lot of different ones and they are getting more and more sophisticated,” he said.
Police say it’s hard to track down these kinds of scammers. Once they get what they want, their number usually can’t be traced.
They’re warning residents to verify the calls with family or police. So you’re not fooled or scared into falling victim yourself.
“You need to be calm. Don’t overreact. If they are in police custody, they will be safe,” Detective Arflin said.
“The important thing is to be skeptical. It is a terrible thing to have to say in this day and age but it is what you have to do,” Mr. Witmer said.
Clemson Police say if you get a call from a scammer, they want to know about it. They say you should avoid giving the caller money and contact police immediately.