Don't Be A Victim: Deputy warns about scam after his own mother is targeted

EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - It's a scam that we have told you about before, but it continues to make the rounds.

It targets grandparents and this week's "Don't be a Victim" report we hear one of these criminals at work trying to pull off the scam.  Effingham County Chief Deputy Richard Bush played us a recording of the criminal after his mother was targeted by the scam.

Bush still isn't sure how the criminal found out the connection between his 83-year-old mother and his son, but it was an attempt to scam that hundreds of people fall victim to each day—most of them elderly.

It starts out with the scammer telling the grandparent that their grandson or granddaughter has been in an accident and gotten a DUI.

"He was supposedly in Miami and he was there for a wedding and he rented a car and he got in an accident, was DUI and got arrested.  Now his attorney needs $3,000 to get out of jail," Bush said.

Bush's mother called his wife trying to get her account information but wouldn't say why.

Fortunately, they recognized the scam and recorded a conversation with the scammer. It gives you a good idea how criminals carry out this scam—putting on the pressure to act quickly.

In the recording, the scammer says that if they hurry, their son won't have to spend the night in jail.

"If you wait if it's after 5 or 6 p.m. for example, he is probably going to have to stay over for the night, but if we can but if you can get it done before then.  If you can get it done as soon as possible we can get him out for today," he said.

Bush's wife, knowing that she is dealing with a scammer asks if he is in a holding cell or in jail with the criminals.

"No, right now he is with the criminals inside a cell—he's with the criminals," he responds.

In the recording, the scammer also says that the Bush's son has been given painkillers by the paramedics and says not to tell anyone about it.

"I just wanted to remind you—he told me that, I don't know, he said he is extremely embarrassed. He is ashamed of what happened. He doesn't want you to tell anyone about it," the scammer said.

He goes on to say, "You are going to go to Bank of America you are going to make a direct deposit. Remember that. You are going to get the $3,000 in cash."

While the scammer didn't get away with anything, in this case, this happens to hundreds of people each day in the United States with many of them falling for it.

Here's some advice to remember so that you don't become a victim:

  • Stay calm. Say you need to consult another family member and hang up.
  • If the emergency is real you can still respond appropriately.
  • Ask a question only your grandchild would know.
  • Don't send money unless you are sure it is the real person.

These scammers are playing off emotions and unfortunately, it often works.

"She was upset. She was just crying and all she could think about was her grandson in jail and wanting to help him.  And she would have if she would have had access to the money that she had," Bush said. "Don't keep it a secret like they are asking.  Let somebody else know what's happened so it can be investigated."

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