FL - The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents of a scam in which a local elderly couple was bilked out of $3,500.
Sheriff’s officials say a 91-year-old man and his 86-year-old wife recently took a call from a person posing as their grandson claiming to be in jail.
The man then gave the phone to someone he claimed to be a jail officer, who gave the couple instructions on how to wire bail money to get their grandson out of jail. The couple wired $3,500, which they never saw again.
Sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow: “The person on the other line was hysterical posing as the grandson. These people are really playing on innocent people’s fears.”
To make matters worse, the men called back a second time, telling the elderly victims the initial wire they sent did not make it through. By then, the couple had called authorities and a deputy answered the phone.
Bristow: “We were actually there and took the phone. We didn’t tell them who we were, but they hung up when we started asking questions.”
Investigators traced the call to Canada, and it is being investigating, but no arrests have been made. Detectives believe there have been other local victims of the scam.“In a case like this, where a call originated in another country, it is rare to make an arrest. So our best chance is to get the word out for people to watch out for this. It really is a heck of a scam.
Sheriff’s detectives are asking any victims or anyone with information on the scam to call the sheriff’s office at (941) 747-3011, ext. 2510, or Crimestoppers at (866) 634-TIPS.
Also, court officials in Manatee have issued a warning to continue watching out for what is known as the “Jury Duty Scam.”
Authorities say people across the nation have reported getting calls from people posing as court officials saying a jury summons has gone unanswered. The thieves even threaten the victim with jail time for not responding to the summons.
The caller then asks for a person’s personal information such as a Social Security number or credit card number to clear up the problem.
Of course, court officials never ask for a person’s personal information by phone and a person cannot be arrested for missing jury duty, according to a statement released by Manatee Clerk of the Circuit Court R.B. “Chips” Shore.
Shore urged anyone who receives such a call regarding jury duty to call his office to report it at (941) 749-1800.
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