This week I’m happy to re-port that May 17th a man in New Smyrna Beach avoided becoming a crime victim at a Bank of America after a man approached him and said he needed money to transport his family across the country.
The reporting person apparently took pity on the “family” and went into the bank, intending to withdraw $2,000 to help them a group that included an-other man, a woman, and a child sitting in a blue Lexus SUV in the parking lot.
Instead, he believed he was being scammed and called the Sheriff’s Office, requesting a deputy to check out the family and escort him to his car. When deputies arrived moments later, the Lexus had departed the scene. Thankfully no crime was committed.
I congratulate this quick-thinking bank customer who avoided falling prey to criminals and instead called us! It’s so important to be alert and, unfortunately, suspicious when a stranger approaches and asks for money. Listen to that voice in your head that warns you to be on your guard!
Unfortunately, another resident on the east side of the county wasn’t so lucky. He received a phone call May 16th from a female caller who claimed to represent Florida Power & Light, stating that the victim was late paying his bill since November.
The caller sent him a text with instructions to go to a CVS store and pay $1,000 in cash at the register while the caller remained on the phone. The victim complied, paying the cashier, and then was told by the caller that the transaction didn’t go through. She told the victim to repeat the process—in-stead the victim contacted his son.
Next, the victim and his son contacted FPL, who advised them no payment had been made to FPL. Further, FPL advised that it doesn’t use CVS to accept bill payment.
This kind of scam has grown increasingly common, whether a caller pretends to represent the IRS or law enforcement, even the Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security, or other government agency. These fraudulent cases may come via phone, in-person visit, or online, but the most important thing is to be cautious, suspicious, and practice good crime prevention. These scams can happen to victims of all ages.
Here are some important signs to watch for. Have you received:
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s website myfloridalegal.com features helpful programs with 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. See recent Consumer Alerts, visit My FloridaLegal.com/ConsumerAlert
Remember, don’t ever share personal financial information online or over the phone with people you don’t know. If you’re unsure, ask a trusted friend or family member, or call the Sheriff’s Office at 386.248.1777 or 911 in an emergency. We’re glad to help.
Help us keep everyone safe,
Sheriff Mike Chitwood