MADISON COUNTY, Ala.- Law enforcement agencies across the Tennessee Valley are warning of a new scam specifically targeting elderly people.
These scams are proving highly effective, with scammers taking almost $200,000 from victims in Morgan and Madison counties so far.
“There are two things in this world that’s just horrible. Preying on our children and preying on the elderly,” says Brent Patterson with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.
The Madison County Sheriffs Office says scammers are targeting pocketbooks by convincing them a family member needs help.
“When they hear the name of your grandson that’s in the county jail or somewhere in Alabama, if you don’t send us x amount of money, he’s not going to ever get out of jail again,” Patterson said.
Fake callers will quote a “high profile incident” then request money to cover legal costs or possible medical expenses.
“These are sophisticated type incidents, these phone calls, they know your names, they know where you live, they know what you’re doing. They know everything about you,” Patterson said.
Brent Patterson says the scammers are using rideshare services to help them with their criminal activity.
“They’ll [the victim will] reach out to the rideshare and say ‘hey, I’ve been told you need to take this money to this address’ and it could be a vacant address with a mailbox with nobody living there. They will make the drop and somebody is sitting there watching,” Patterson said.
Patterson says while the calls can be believable, the Sheriff’s Office will never call and request payment over the phone.
“The Sheriff’s Office, Huntsville Police Department, bonding companies, the judges, courts, we are not going to call the public,” Patterson said.
The Sheriff’s Office says they are pooling together resources to catch whoever is targeting the elderly in our community.
Decatur Police Department also released a statement on Friday regarding the scamming incidents:
“The Decatur Police Department has recently received reports of the ‘Grandparent Scam,’ a common phone scam that targets our most vulnerable by taking advantage of their love for their family.
Scammers call victims posing as a grandchild in a crisis situation, asking for financial assistance. In some instances, scammers may also pose as a bail bond agent, a law enforcement official or an attorney needing money to represent the grandchild in court.
We know grandparents just want to help, but we strongly encourage them to pause and resist the urge to act immediately, never give out your personal information, and verify any emergency by calling family members.
Anyone who believes they were targeted by this scam should report it to their local law enforcement agency.”Decatur Police Department
“We have a message. We are using every available resource we’ve got whether it be local, state, or federal government, we all have our heads together looking into this matter and they’re going to get caught,” Patterson said.
If you feel you’ve been targeted by one of these scams, or if you have fallen victim to one, contact your local law enforcement agency.