Stop scammers by thinking before acting

Yet another scam targeting elderly residents has hit Sampson County, reminding us that we need to be alert to what older parents and grandparents are doing, particularly as it pertains to their finances.

At least one Sampson County resident has fallen prey to the likes of unknown callers trying to instill panic and urgency in older adults, targeting their compassionate side in hopes of pilfering thousands of dollars from their bank accounts.

Thankfully, this time, the quick action of county law enforcement prevented the victim from losing some $10,000 to the scam, even though the money had already been wired to a New York account. But the next person targeted by this or a similar scam might not be so fortunate.

That’s why it is imperative that adult children pay close attention to what their parents and grandparents are doing with their money, educating them about the scams and encouraging them to think through unusual calls urgently seeking money for a loved one.

Most scams play on the compassion of the elderly, and most scammers gamble on the fact that older residents will act first and consider the circumstances surrounding urgent calls later, meaning that their hard-earned savings has already been transferred to someone’s account before they consider the likelihood of the danger or trouble a loved one might actually be in.

The latest scam, reported in The Sampson Independent Tuesday, targeted an older resident, with the caller pretending to be a grandson urgently in need of money, $10,000 to be exact, to get himself out of drug trouble with law enforcement. Details are usually pretty specific and callers have an air of authority that makes the calls seem legitimate.

Of course, what scammers are hoping is that the urgency of the call and the professionalism of the callers will be just enough to send victims scurrying to the nearest bank to transfer the needed money.

Too many times that’s exactly what happens. It’s diabolical and it needs to stop. Unfortunately there are so many scammers out there it’s hard to slow the rising tide of schemers out to make a quick buck at the expense of elderly residents.

That’s why it’s so important for people to be mindful of unusual calls where callers are requesting money be transferred to unknown bank accounts or where callers are alerting would-be victims to prizes won in some type of sweepstakes.

As law enforcement officers are quick to remind, if it seems to good to be true, it likely is. No sweepstakes requires money be deposited before prizes are awarded, and generally speaking no strangers are going to call you about wiring money to a relative in trouble.

Scams are usually elaborate, with scammers often having just enough information for the calls to seem real and very scary, particularly to older adults.

That’s why we urge residents to consider the calls, research them and alert law enforcement before merely taking matters into their own hands. Avoiding a knee-jerk reaction can prevent you or someone you love from becoming a victim. A few minutes can make all the difference.

For more information about the latest scam or to report any scam contact the Sampson County Sheriff’s Department at 910-592-4141 or the Clinton Police Department at 910-592-3105.