Getting scammed is devastating no matter what your age. While stealing someone’s identity is an underhanded deed, it’s particularly disgusting to hear about scams that specifically target older adults. This is a generation that grew up without Internet complications or digital fears. As more and more older adults have embraced the age of technology, an increasing number of them have fallen victim to scams.
The 911 Scam
One of the newest threats against older adults comes in the form of what, at first glance, appears to be a legitimate police communication. North Carolina’s Wake County Sherriff’s Department has learned about a scam in which the older adult receives a phone call. On the other end of that line is a person who claims to be a Wake County police officer. The calls even show up on the caller ID as “911,” “Raleigh Police Department,” or “Wake County Sherriff.”
Once the intended victim picks up and says hello, the scammer immediately identifies himself as a Wake County officer. Seniors are then told they have done something to break the law. For example, one retiree was accused of running a red light, while another was told he failed to show up for jury duty. Others were informed they had been caught on a red light camera speeding or engaging in some other form of traffic violation.
Once the scammer has his intended victim frightened and willing to do what it takes to satisfy the infraction, they really go in for the kill. Older adults are told that they can actually avoid the filing of formal charges, thereby maintaining an honorable standing in the community.
What are these older adults being ordered to do? According to police, the scammers instruct them to make their way to a local Wal-Mart. There, the senior must buy a prepaid MasterCard and immediately wire money to the associated account.
North Carolina police spokespersons publicly warned the state’s older population, emphasizing that no legal office seeks payment of fees via telephone. Officials have not been able to pinpoint just who is behind this scheme, but more than 10 seniors have come forward with information about their own mysterious phone calls from a Wake County officer.
What if You Receive a Phone Call?
If you are contacted by someone who claims to be a police officer and requests that you pay traffic violation or jury duty fines, hang up and immediately call your local law enforcement. If the caller identifies himself as an officer, ask for their full name and title, name of their supervisor and then verify the data with local police.