Elderly Florida residents continue to be a top target for scammers.
The FBI reports that more than 100,000 people over the age of 65 fell victim to scams last year alone.
A scam going on locally involves a caller claiming to be a grandchild or an attorney for a grandchild, saying that the person has been in a car crash where they were at fault and demanding a "pay off."
Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw says there's a big reason why seniors are targeted.
"There's some people that when they get to a certain age, their mental acuity is not exactly what it was before and they don't think things through all the way."
He says whether it's this scam or others involving people claiming to be from the Sheriff's Office, the IRS or some other agency, there is a common theme to watch out for.
"The biggest thing that people need to understand is number one, government agencies don't call you on the phone and threaten you. Number two is even if it was some governmental agency, they're not going to say 'Go get gift cards to resolve the issue.' It's going to be something that it's going to be a process in a court system."
He says it's nearly impossible to find the scammers because the phone numbers are almost always traced to an off-shore number.
Anyone who receives a call that sounds like a scam should report it to the sheriff's office or their local police department.
Here are more details on how the "Grandparent" scam is being operated in our community:
The scam usually starts with a phone call from someone claiming to be a grandchild or an attorney representing a grandchild. The scammer will then provide a story advising that your grandchild has been involved in a car accident where they were at fault. The scammer then requests money to “pay off” the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident or for bail money for your grandchild. The scammer will tell you not to tell anyone about what has happened and will sometimes insinuate that there is a “gag order” in place prohibiting you from discussing the matter with anyone else. This tactic is intentional and the purpose of it is to stop you from calling someone who might tell you that you’re being scammed. Regardless of what you’re being told, you should call a trusted family member or friend and verify the whereabouts of your grandchild.
If you receive a phone call like this, please hang up the phone and do not give out any personal information. The scammers are very convincing and will try to get you to withdraw cash and hand it over to a courier who will deliver it to your “grandchild” or their “attorney”. Whatever you do, please do not hand over any cash!
This scam can take many forms and it may not be this exact story, so please be cautious of anyone calling you on the phone asking you for money. If you think you are being scammed or if you have handed over money to someone after receiving a call like this, please contact the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office or your local police department.