MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. — The Muscle Shoals Police Department wants people to be aware of a phone scam that could leave residents with empty pockets for the holidays.
The scam, you’ve probably heard of before; someone calls claiming to be a relative who’s been arrested and needs bail or bond money to be released. The scammers then instruct the victim to purchase a prepaid credit or debit card to pay the fees over the phone.
“Someone called and essentially fished for information and said, ‘hey grandmother or grandfather,’ and then they said, ‘who is this,’ and then the person on the phone asked, ‘well, who does it sound like,’ and as soon as they said a name they then proceeded to pretend to be like that grandchild,” Detective Taylor Spalding said.
Detective Spalding said this time around, scammers aren’t asking for credit or debit card numbers, instead they’re going to the victims’ homes to collect the money in person.
“We’ve had scams as far as someone getting card numbers or something along those lines but someone actually going to their house and picking up cash from someone’s hand, I’ve not seen any until now,” Spalding said.
The police department said multiple reports have been filed while two citizens have fallen victim so far. The scammers have been reported collecting thousands of dollars from the victims.
“Someone that is going to commit crimes like these is going to try to exploit whoever they can and a lot of the times for them it’s worked out for elderly people to be targeted in these types of things,” Spalding said.
Spalding said scams like these happen year-round but there is usually a spike around the holidays.
The police department is currently reviewing surveillance video from neighboring homes to see if the scammers can be identified. The department said identical incidents have been reported out of Shelby County, so it’s believed that the scammers are traveling.
The Muscle Shoals Police Department stressed that law enforcement will never call demanding cash for the release of an individual and will never ask for fees and fines to be paid with a gift or prepaid card.