Distress scam reported locally

Published 6:45 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents to be aware of a distress scam that has been reported locally.

The telephone calls involve a relative, namely a grandchild, asking for money after alleging to be in distress — being incarcerated or involved in a vehicle accident.

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“We got one call here recently,” said Maj. David Wilmoth with the Prince Edward Sheriff’s Office. “People called this lady [saying] that [her] grandson had been in an accident and to send money [through] Western Union.”

Wilmoth says the scammers pose a dramatic incident to get people to send money.

“They’re really putting [on] … with having someone actually calling and then having … what they think would be their grandson, and just crying and stuff and saying, ‘Send me some money, I’ve been in an accident, I’m in jail.’”

Another caller told a local resident that they were involved in a car accident in another state and needed money to get home.

“We’ve had two this week. This is the accident scheme,” he said.

No one has succumbed to the scam and sent money, Wilmoth said.

“They’ve come close. Both of them had contacted the relatives. That’s what we urge them to do, you know, if there’s any type of doubt.”

When a local resident has attempted to call the number back, the operator indicates that the number has been disconnected.

“If you don’t know who you’re talking to, don’t send something until you’ve actually gone back and verified it,” Wilmoth said.

Wilmoth said authorities have received reports of a continued IRS scam, where a caller indicates that if delinquent taxes aren’t paid, the resident will be arrested.

“They say ‘We’re going to send the police to your door and put you in jail if you don’t send a green-dot-card to such and such an address, or Western Union,’” he said.

“They’re not going to call you and tell you ‘We’re going to put you in jail,’” Wilmoth said. “That’s not how they operate.”

Anyone who feels they’ve fallen victim to a telephone or electronic scam should call the sheriff’s office at (434) 392-8101 or their local law enforcement agency. “Especially if they’ve actually sent money. …,” Wilmoth said.