Scammers swipe nearly $80K from Greenville seniors

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Police are warning of increased telephone fraud after two recent cases resulted in senior citizens losing nearly $80,000 from their life savings.

They say in at least two cases …Seniors have been defrauded out of tens of thousands of dollars. They’re asking for any other victims to come forward.

“It’s traceable but its a lot harder to chase,” said Detective Michael Dean with the Greenville Police Department.

He investigates financial scams just like this one.

“Most of the time the cases we deal with we’re talking thousands of dollars.”
He says, in at least two cases, seniors in Greenville have been swindled out of thousands.

“It’s like fishing, once they get it on the line and they keep going along the story line to make it more believable,” said Dean.

Seniors tend to be more vulnerable when it comes to these crimes. That’s why the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice are involved.

“We’ll participate in events to give seniors tools so they don’t become victims of crimes themselves,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Sneed.

He says they’ve come up with fun ways to get helpful information to seniors–like fraud bingo.

“By the time the game is done, the senior person or the elderly person has two or three or fifty little pointers to take with them so they don’t become a victim of a crime,” said Sneed.

He says there are two major red flags.

“If they ask you for money and time is of the essence. Those are the two key red flags,” said Sneed.

Dean says crimes like this can devastate seniors.

“There’s some people who end up left with just maybe a social security check because they take it out of life savings.”

He’s urging anyone who has been a victim to come forward.

“Unfortunately you’re not the first person this has happened to and you’re not the last,” said Dean.

Many people may not come forward out of embarrassment, but experts say they need those police reports to track down these criminals.

Also if you think you’re on the other end of a scam call, hang up right away and report the phone number.

Here’s some more details on the known scams happening in Greenville:

The first case occurred when a fraudster targeted a victim in her 80s. He claimed he needed access to her computer to help process an unexpected refund. The fraudster then convinced the victim she had to purchase thousands of dollars’ worth of gift cards in order to receive the refund.

The second case was a slight variation of the first. A senior citizen received a call regarding unauthorized charges on her credit card. The fraudster then convinced the victim to max out her accounts by purchasing over 40 gift cards and give him the numbers. He told the victim this was how they could catch those responsible for the unauthorized charges and promised all the victim’s money would be returned after the crooks were caught.

“These individuals intentionally prey on seniors because they are some of the most vulnerable people in our community. In too many cases, the stolen money comes from retirement savings with little chance of the victims ever recovering what they’ve lost.”

GPD Detective Michael Dean.

Always be on the lookout for warning signs of telephone fraud scams:

  • Insisting on payment by wire transfer, gift card, cash
  • Demanding you confirm account information or social security number
  • Asking for credit card information for payment before receiving free services
  • Offers to help recover money already lost
  • Pressure to make an immediate decision.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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