Seniors Today Newspaper
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Don’t Let Criminals Distract, Manipulate, Or Dupe You Out Of Your Money

This week we have a couple of good reminders about staying vigilant—while shopping in the grocery store or falling victim to a phone scam.

These kinds of schemes can befall people of any age who live throughout Volusia County. That’s why it’s important to practice good crime prevention—to save time, headaches, and thousands of your dollars.

Recently, a West Volusia resident in her 80s was shopping at a Winn-Dixie grocery store when she realized someone had stolen her wallet out of her purse which was in her shopping cart.

Our victim reported the theft to the store manager, who called the Sheriff’s Office to investigate. My responding deputy quickly reviewed store surveillance video showing a woman—Suspect 1—starting a conversation with the victim about meat prices.

Clearly, Suspect 1 was distracting our shopper while Suspect 2 lurked near the cart, and the purse. Nothing happened, at first. Until the victim encountered the women on the bread aisle.

That’s where The Distracter kept the victim occupied while The Thief reached into the purse and grabbed the wallet. Both suspects left their shopping carts behind and exited the store.

Shortly after the theft, the victim’s bank called to alert her of two suspicious purchases. Thankfully the bank closed her account—but not before two fraudulent purchases were made with her debit card.

Criminals act quickly after stealing people’s money or credit cards—often before the victims even know they’ve been victimized. She spent the rest of the day closing her credit card accounts, of course.

Another fraud reported in mid-July involved a Southeast Volusia resident in her 50s. She told deputies her bank account had been compromised by a phone scam. She received an e-mail from a random bank advising she needed to create a new e-mail for all her online bank accounts to supposedly prevent fraudulent purchases.

Using her mobile phone, this victim accessed one of her credit cards’ website and she attempted to update her e-mail address. A fraudulent prevention number popped up on her screen. She called the number and was greeted by a man who stated her financial information had been compromised.

He instructed her to download two apps to verify her identity, which she did. By doing this, she provided her Social Security number, debit card number, phone number, and driver’s license. The male suspect told her this was necessary to update her credit card account.

A few days later, the victim checked her bank statements online and discovered fraudulent charges pending for nearly $4,000. She too called the Sheriff’s Office to report the fraud and then canceled all her debit cards.

Both cases cost the victims time, money, and headaches. Both are now active criminal investigations conducted by our detectives.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s website——offers important information to educate yourself about a variety of scams and consumer alerts.

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 if you don’t take immediate action;
  • Requests for immediate payment by wire transfer, credit, prepaid debit, or especially gift cards.
  • 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.
Family members, please help protect your parents or grandparents from becoming fraud victims.

They’ll thank you and we thank you,
Sheriff Mike Chitwood