According to Sheriff Benny Deloach on October 28 a lady came to the Appling County Sheriff’s Office to report how she had been scammed out of a large amount of money. Two ladies approached her and convinced her to prove to them that she was capable of handling money because they had come into a large amount of money and wanted someone to handle their money. This lady went to the bank and withdrew her money and gave it to the ladies. The ladies stated that they were going to go and count the money. The ladies left and have not returned.
Scams or cons are a growing crime invading and impacting every day life for citizens right here in Appling County. Just this past week The News-Banner received two telephone calls about local seniors that lost thousands to these lowlife thugs that prey on people’s emotions enabling them to take, in some cases, everything a person has ever worked for. A 2009 study by MetLife’s Mature Market Institute estimates that seniors lose approximately $2.6 billion per year due to financial abuse fraud, as well as theft by family members and acquaintances.
One of the top telephone scams is the lottery scam. A caller contacts you claiming that you have won millions or some big prize such as a new car. They then proclaim all you have to do to claim your prize is pay the taxes or the transfer fees. Always remember that old saying that if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.
Here are a few clues to consider. Real lotteries do not track down winners much less call repeatedly. Another consideration is that real lotteries do not ask you for money except when you purchase your ticket, and that should be a good clue; did you buy a ticket?
Also be careful if a con artist calls claiming that you’ve won some big sweepstakes prize. Ask yourself, “Did I even enter this contest?”
One of the most recent scams is the Social Security rip-off. Identification thieves steal personal information and contact the Social Security Administration to change the payment routing information to the their own bank accounts or prepaid debit cards. Never give your personal identification, such as your Social Security number, date of birth, checking account information, and etc., to an unknown person or company. You know who you bank with and more than likely if you need to make changes to your Social Security, it will be you or a family member contacting the Federal government, not the other way around. If the con artist calls and claims to be a representing the Social Security Administration tell them you would like to see something in writing about the changes that need to be addressed to your account. It is always a good idea to tell telemarketers to present something in writing.
But it’s just not telephone scams that are occurring in our area. Recently there were two men that stopped by a lady’s house in a neighboring community claiming to be interested in purchasing some property from her. One of the men distracted the lady by asking her to come outside and away from the house. While one man was distracting the lady, the other man entered the house and stole jewelry and money. It wasn’t until after the men left and she reentered her home that she realized she’d been robbed.
Family members also play a role in helping to prevent scams. If you visit your parents’ home and see a lot of junk mail lying around or if you notice a number of telephone call solicitations during your visit, ask questions.
If you would like more advice regarding fraud, please visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website and visit the area regarding telemarketing scams (http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0076-telemarketing-scams).
Finally our advice for local individuals would be that if you are unsure about a telemarketer or solicitor hang up the phone and then contact the Baxley Police Department at (912) 367-8305 or the Appling County Sheriff’s Office at (912) 367-8120.