NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - If you or other family members may be separated from loved ones during the holidays, scammers may try to create a fake crisis to dupe you out of money.
Mary Simmons got a call at her North Charleston home this week and her a voice that sounded just like her great grandson, Timothy.
“He was saying ‘Grandma, Grandma, you don’t know what happened’ and he was crying,” Simmons said.
A minute later, Simmons was on the phone with a man who claimed to be a police officer in New Jersey.
The man told Simmons her great grandson had been in a crash and was being charged with DUI. He went on to tell her that a pregnant woman lost a baby in the crash and Timothy would be charged for the unborn child’s death.
The man on the phone gave Mary a badge number to sound official and also gave her the name and phone number for the public defender already assigned to Timothy’s case.
While the phone call seemed legitimate to Mary, a big red flag came next. The man on the phone told her not to tell anyone about this, because Timothy didn’t want anyone to know. Scammers often use this tactic to keep you from figuring out their story isn’t true.
Mary called Timothy’s mother and grandmother before calling the supposed public defender. When they finally called the lawyer, he told them they needed to pay Timmy’s bail of $4,000.
Mary told them they couldn’t pay that kind of money, and the public defender told they had to figure it out in order to get Timothy out of jail.
In the meantime, Mary’s daughter started calling police departments in New Jersey, looking for her grandson. After failing to find him in any police system, officers told them it was all a scam.
The family went through three hours of concern, panic and heartache, before finally making a phone call that was probably long overdue. They called Timothy on his phone directly.
“When she called Timmy’s number, Timmy was home in bed sleeping, nowhere near Jersey.”
Luckily, Mary and her family didn’t end up paying any money and Timothy was safe and not involved in anything illegal. Imposter Scams like this continue to be the most common in South Carolina. If you get a call like this, reach out to your loved one first to make sure they’re OK.
You can also report the scam to South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs.
If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at Scams@live5news.com.