LAWRENCE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A warning from the Lawrence County Sheriff, after several of his citizens fall prey to aggressive con men.
Sheriff John Myers told News 2, there aren’t necessarily more victims, but the victims he’s seeing, are being conned by more aggressive scammers with elaborate stories who often threaten their victims.
The sheriff said one person this week was tricked out of $1,100 dollars.
The sheriff says some of the con men act like IRS agents or law officers threatening to throw the citizens in jail if they don’t hand over the money they reportedly owe.
Sheriff Myers said, “This is always the time of year we see a surge in these scam calls. It goes with the holidays. They are aggressive and leave a voice mail on your phone and say you will be arrested unless you paid what is owed.”
The sheriff’s simple advice is if you get a call from an unfamiliar number, let it go to voice mail. Then listen to it, and decide if it’s legitimate.
The sheriff says the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office never calls people and leaves a threatening voice mail before they come and arrest them.
Myers says the scammers almost always try and get you to pull money out of your bank, or put cash on prepaid gift cards.
Sadly, one Lawrence County man was duped out of $800 recently.
He told News 2 the caller was aggressive and knew about him, his wife, his kids and even their social security numbers and where they worked and what they drove.
He says he now regrets picking up the phone, but he laments that he was conned and urges others to not do what he did.
The 62-year-old man, a husband and father doesn’t want to be identified. He told News 2, “I went oh my god. What a crazy fool I was. I should’ve just hung up on him! But they kept calling, three or four times, back-to-back. I said, well, I’m going to answer it, to see who it is.”
The victim told News 2, the bad guy was persistent and called back multiple times. When he got the victim on the phone, he pretended to be a Texas law man working a crime in the Dallas area.
The victim says the caller claimed there had been an incident on an interstate involving a rental car covered with blood and cocaine.
The fake officer told the Lawrence County man officers there were afraid that the Lawrence County man’s identity was compromised and that the perpetrators in the fake Texas drug deal were sure to empty his bank account.
The senior said he was skeptical, but he did not hang up.
“I said, why are you calling me for?”
The scammers convinced the man to stay on the phone and drive to his bank and pull out cash.
While still on the phone, they got him to go to Walmart and put $500 on one gift card and $300 on a second card.
“Of course, I did that. He was still on the phone with me. He never did get off the phone.”
Once they had the card numbers, transferring the money was like handing over cash.
To finalize the scam, the flimflam man told the victim that FBI agents would be around the following day with a cashier’s check and new social security information so the victim could open up a new bank account.
Obviously, that was all a charade.
Now that he’s had time to think about it, the senior admits none of the story makes a lot of sense. But he says, the scam artist was convincing and relentless and when it was happening, the victim says it was very, very convincing.
“Foolish me. He kept talking, So I fell for it.”
The victim agreed to talk to News 2 so he could warn others out there to be on guard against these aggressive scam artists who will say anything to take your cash.
“If someone calls you on your phone and you see a weird number, do not even answer it. Let it go to voice mail.”
Like so many scams, authorities say, if it sounds too good to be true.. it is. And in the case of this particular victim, if you have doubts about what is happening, hang up. Or call someone you trust and ask them for advice.
The key is to slow down. Scam artists have a sense of urgency. They make you think that you have to act immediately or something will happen that is either bad or you will lose out on a great deal.