Seniors Today Newspaper
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Avoid Scammers—Listen To That Inner Voice That Says ‘Beware’

I hate hearing about someone who has been scammed out of their hard-earned money by some ne’er do well criminal who spends more time stealing people’s money than earning an honest living.

This week, a Daytona Beach resident reported being victimized by a gift card scam—for more than $4,000—and she wants to pursue criminal charges.
She didn’t report the crime to us right away because she felt embarrassed. Un-fortunately, this kind of crime happens regularly and other victims often feel the same way. However, if you believe you’ve been the victim of a scam, the best thing to do is report it to our Volusia Sheriff’s Office as soon as you realize you’ve been victimized.

The incident began when this victim received an e-mail stating her account was charged nearly $300 for an anti-virus program, which she knew she didn’t authorize. Then she called what she thought was a legitimate customer support phone number and requested a refund.

From there, things snowballed: The victim provided a stranger with her banking information for what she believed was someone legitimately returning her money. Next she was directed to download a computer application onto her laptop, which gave him access to remotely control her laptop.

Big Red Flag—Never share your personal financial information with someone over the phone whom you don’t know.
Then the stranger provided the victim with a fake bank statement indicating her money had been deposited. Soon after, the victim received a call from someone else requesting her to buy several gift cards to restore her anti-virus software.

Another Big Red Flag—If someone in- structs you to buy gift cards to pay a debt, hang up! It’s a scam!
The victim purchased several gift cards and gave all the numbers to the person over the phone. After receiving more than 20 calls from the same number, asking her for more gift cards, she finally realized she was being scammed and contacted us for help.

My heart goes out to her as she’s older, living on a fixed income, and she stated that
losing this money to a scam presents a significant hardship for her.

I want to remind everyone to educate and protect yourselves about these kinds of scams. They can happen to people of all ages.
There are steps you can take and things to remember to avoid becoming a victim:
Here are general signs of common scams:

  • Unsolicited phone calls or emails;
  • High-pressure tactics or offers that seem too good to be true;
  • Threats of loss (or arrest) if you don’t take immediate action;
  • Requests for immediate payment by wire transfer, credit, prepaid debit, or especially gift cards.
  • Remember: Never provide your personal financial information over the phone or online unless you trust the person who’s asking.

If you have any doubt or think you may have become a victim of fraud, call the Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number, 386.248.1777 or 911 in an emergency. We’ll be glad to help.

Family members, please help protect your parents or grandparents from becoming fraud victims. Help us help them!
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s website offers helpful information about common scams. One program is Scams At A Glance and includes downloadable brochures in English and Spanish to teach consumers how to avoid becoming a fraud victim.
The other program is Consumer Alert. To view recent Consumer Alerts, visit


Please stay smart and stay safe,
Sheriff Mike Chitwood