By: Bryan Boggiano
Scams against seniors are nothing new in the community; however, after Sgt. Devoune Williams with the Broward Sheriff’s Office saw an uptick in cases, he wanted to get the word out.
“We’re community members, and our family is here as well,” he said. “We all have a common village interest in the protection, care, and overall well-being of our seniors here in Tamarac.”
He reminded residents about the biggest scams they see in Tamarac.
1. The Bail Bonds or Grandparent Scam
A caller claiming to be the senior’s child, grandchild, niece, or nephew will call a resident asking them to give money to help bail them out of jail. They can get these names through publicly available information, Facebook, and Google searches. The “child” on the phone will beg the grandparent not to tell mom or dad they are in jail.
Some seniors reported to BSO that the caller even sounded like their family member. Sometimes they say they were in a car crash or a fight, and that’s why they sound different.
The same number could even call back, posing as a lawyer and asking for an attorney and court fees.
Hang up the phone and call the child or their parent on their cellphone. Then call BSO.
2. Bank Card Scam
A person claiming to be a bank representative will inform a senior their card is compromised or someone who committed a crime has their bank card information. To verify that it is the senior’s card, the caller asks for the card number and PIN. With this information, scammers can and will drain their bank accounts.
Hang up the phone, and call BSO.
3. Amazon Scam
A caller will inform a senior that their account has fraudulent purchases, and there are specific steps to replenish the account. The caller will ask the senior to pull up their account information and remotely access the computer. They then advise the senior to purchase Amazon cards or have them read off the card information and then use the cards for themselves.
Don’t give anyone your online passwords. Hang up the phone and call BSO.
4. City Worker/Distraction Scam
A scammer will pretend to be from the city or FPL and inform the senior that they need to work around the house. The senior will lead them into the house or the backyard, where the scammer will pretend to do inspections. While that is happening, a second scammer will enter the house and steal something valuable like jewelry.
Do not let a stranger in unless you made the service call. Lock your door and call BSO.
5. IRS Tax Scam
A scammer will inform a senior they are with the IRS and inform them they owe several thousands of dollars in back taxes. The scammer will say the police are on their way to arrest the resident, but if they pay with gift cards from their nearest drug store, they will call them off.
The scammer does not want the caller to hang up the phone to verify this information with outsiders. They make it appear that urgency is of the utmost importance. There are two tip-offs to this scam. One, the IRS never calls. They will only send information via mail, and two, these scammers typically originate from India.
Hang up the phone and call BSO.
Sgt. Williams said seniors could take steps to avoid fraud, including checking their bank statements regularly, talking to younger family and friends, and reaching out to BSO or their banks directly. And young adults should be aware, as well.
He recommends seniors record the caller’s name, number, and any other pertinent information from any caller they suspect of being a scammer. They should reach out to their younger family members, bank, or BSO for any assistance. Immediately contact the bank if the senior already paid or gave financial information away. If fraud has already occurred, he urges them to report it to BSO. This gives BSO the chance to investigate and stop other people from being victimized.
Regardless, Sgt. Williams has a strict warning for anybody thinking of scamming anyone in Tamarac.
“We want crooks to know if you come to Tamarac and we’re able to track you down; we’re going to hit you legally with everything we can charge you with.”
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- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master's. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.