BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Berkeley County deputies say scammers are posing as deputies and other law enforcement officers to trick people into paying money to avoid arrest.
When scammers called one elderly woman claiming she had a bench warrant for not showing up for grand jury duty, she called her grandson who just happens to be an actual Berkeley County deputy.
"I think he picked the wrong family. Fortunately, we're a family of four policemen locally and I have a grandson in Virginia whose been an officer for 15 years. So he picked the wrong family," the victim said.
The scammers were so convincing on the phone that her grandson, a Berkeley County deputy, thought they sounded legitimate at first.
"Our deputy called the guy back and they were going back and forth trying to validate the issue," Berkeley County Chief Deputy Cochran said. "And our deputy spoke to him for half an hour and was like wow they've been doing this so long, they know exactly what they're doing and it almost sounds legitimate."
The scammers claim that to avoid arrest, the victim must purchase money cards and send the caller codes that allow the scammers to take the money from the cards.
Luckily this victim did not send money, but it could be easy for others to not think twice before complying.
"If it had been my husband he would have immediately gone up there and paid them," the victim said. "That's the kind of person he was. He was gullible enough to believe it and he would have gone and gotten the cash at taken it with him. No telling what would have happened to him."
Deputy Cochran said that these scammers typically prey on the elderly.
"They prey on, a lot of times, older folks. And these older folks are living on fixed incomes," Chief Deputy Cochran said. "Fixed income or not, if they're stealing from them that's just a shame."
He also said this scam is typically done by the same people who do IRS scams and try what they can to get money out of people.
"It's the same cast of characters using a slightly different scam and they're always preying on the older folks," Chief Deputy Cochran said. "They're from a more trusting generation and they're gonna fall hook line and sinker."
"If you have an elderly parent or neighbor, please let them know that these calls are going around and to hang up on the callers," the department posted on Facebook. "The callers use computers to mask their location and sometimes use spoofed phone numbers to make it appear like a local call."
Anyone who receives such a call should hang up immediately.