Seniors Today Newspaper
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Scammers Impersonating ‘Injured’ Or ‘Jailed’ Family Members

Criminals are getting more and more overt, as we saw in a recent fraud complaint: A West Volusia resident in his 80s contacted the Volusia Sheriff’s Office after he was tricked out of $15,000 by someone pretending to be his family member who faced legal troubles.

This elaborate scheme sounded very convincing and preyed on the victim’s desire and ability to help his family member. The victim thought he was legitimately talking with his nephew, who reported he had been in the hospital and was then found at fault in a vehicle accident. The nephew said he needed the money immediately to post bond after he was arrested for recklessly causing a crash. Otherwise the driver would be kept in jail for a week.

The victim agreed to post the bond. Next he was told by someone pretending to be an attorney that a courier would come to pick up the money and the victim couldn’t leave his home until the bond was posted. A gag order was in place so the victim couldn’t tell anyone about this incident.

Soon the victim called his nephew and realized it was a scam. He now wants to pursue criminal charges and we are investigating this incident. This type of fraud is nothing new but it bears reminding everyone to be cautious if you experience something similar. Remember, criminals are looking for vulnerable people to victimize.

Several red flags emerged in this case. If someone contacts you online or by phone or text with a story like this, be very suspicious. Contact friends or your family members immediately to confirm the facts before you send money.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s website offers important information to educate yourself about a variety of scams and consumer alerts at

General signs of common scams:

  • Unsolicited calls or e-mails;
  • High-pressure tactics or offers that are 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.

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.
Not only is this scam type of information important for seniors to know, but family members should also know this happens. Please help protect your parents or grandparents from becoming fraud victims.

Let’s help keep each other safe,
Sheriff Mike Chitwood