This week I want to talk about the continuing trend of brazen criminals targeting seniors here in Volusia County with scam phone calls, tricking their victims into sending strangers thousands of dollars.
The callers often pretend to be someone legitimate—a computer technician, Amazon representative, even the Volusia Sheriff’s Office, or other government officials. The ruses vary: Someone has hacked your computer or supposedly is trying to buy an iPhone using your account.
Or your grandchild is in trouble, and you must send large sums of money. The scam continues with someone posing as an attorney taking over the call and instructing the seniors to get cash for them.In one case, a senior was asked for $30,000.
It’s an old scam, but unfortunately, people who are vulnerable are still falling for it, costing them thousands.
In March, at least three similar cases were reported to the Volusia Sheriff’s Office. The victims in those case paid more than $50,000 to criminals pretending to be a family member in need, or a friend/attorney of a relative. In one case, the scammers were so bold they arranged to send someone to the victims’ home to pick up the cash.
I’m glad to report that our detectives have solved a fraud case with the arrest of a Las Vegas man who scammed an 80-year-old New Smyrna Beach woman out of $41,000. She alerted us in January that she had been tricked after receiving a phone call from someone advising her that her computer had been hacked and her information was being stolen.
The stranger, who said he was a computer expert in New York, told her to send him a check for $20,000 and sadly, she did. Then she received a follow-up phone call from a female caller claiming to be from the Sheriff’s Office, instructing her to send a second check, for $21,000, and again she did.
Our detectives tracked her checks to the accounts where they were deposited, which led them to the Las Vegas resident. He was arrested and charged with grand theft. Fortunately the victim will regain her lost money.
Please, if you receive a call like this and agree to provide cash, call 911 immediately. Get a law enforcement officer to your house and let them sort through the mess for you. Don’t rush to your bank until you report it.
Remember: If someone calls and says they are from the IRS, a police department, or the Volusia Sheriff’s Office and tells you that you’d better pay up or you’ll be arrested, nobody—not Homeland Security, not the IRS, not Florida Power & Light—no legitimate entity wants cash from you. That’s not how government works. Don’t fall for it!
If you know someone who might be susceptible to this kind of crime, please talk with them. Remind them that anytime someone calls demanding money—especially if they’re making threats or using pressure tactics—it’s very likely a scam and can cost victims thousands of dollars.
In addition, you can learn more about protecting yourself against scams with Florida Attorney
General Ashley Moody’s Scams At A Glance—an outreach program with information about common and emerging scams. You can avoid becoming a fraud victim, but you must know what to look for.
Here are signs of common scams:
• Unsolicited calls or e-mails;
• High-pressure tactics or too-good-to-be-true offers;
• Threats of loss if immediate action is not taken; and
• Requests for immediate payment by wire transfer, credit, prepaid debit, or gift cards.
To view recent Consumer Alerts, visit My FloridaLegal.com/ConsumerAlert. To report fraud or file a complaint, visit MyFloridaLegal.com or call 1.866.9NO-SCAM.
If you become a fraud victim, call the Sheriff’s Office at 386.248.1777, but remember: You don’t have to be a victim if you hang up on scammers!
Stay safe and stay vigilant,
Sheriff Mike Chitwood