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SUNSET BEACH—The Sunset Beach Police Department is investigating a scam in which a 79-year-old woman was bilked out of more than $1,500.
The incident, which involved obtaining property by false pretense, was reported Jan. 28 at the woman’s address on High Market Street.
Sunset Beach Police Detective Joe Smith said the woman initially responded to an email telling her she had won $950,000 and a new car.
The rest of her communication with the perpetrators was by phone. Callers told her she had to send money to receive her prizes.
Smith said the incident involved several different transactions in which the woman sent several hundred dollars each time.
The woman sent money by Western Union and by purchasing prepaid “Green Dot” MoneyPak cards used to transfer money to other accounts. Both modes are popular with scammers, Smith said.
“Many if not all of these scams are being perpetrated from other countries and are impossible to track down,” Smith said. “They seem to be targeting the older population.”
Smith said, “What potential victims need to remember is that if you legitimately win something, it will not cost you a dime to collect.”
He also advises against sending money to anyone you don’t know.
“Many of these so-called charities are scams as well,” Smith said. “Find a local charity to donate to and donate in person.”
Smith said the older population is especially vulnerable to these types of scams. Victims often have memory issues or they’re embarrassed about telling police what happened to them.
“It’s quite a common practice,” he said. “They don’t want to file a police report. They just want us to know what’s going on because they’re too embarrassed. They know if they file a report it’s going to be public information.”
In Sunset Beach, Smith said people have been taken for as much as $150,000. He said the victim in that case didn’t realize how much money she was spending.
“She was just writing checks and sending them,” he said. “She thought she was being good and charitable.”
Smith advises people to call local law enforcement when they feel anything is a scam or questionable in any way.
He also advises caution when you receive email from anyone you don’t know.