Beware ‘bail’ scams

Published 1:03 am Thursday, March 24, 2011

Elderly targeted by con artists seeking quick cash return

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office is warning people to be wary of possible “bail” scams.

Since March 15, the sheriff’s office has received two reports of fraudulent activity in which someone attempts to get another person to wire money to bail out an incarcerated relative.

“These con artists typically prey on elderly victims, but anyone could receive calls from someone attempting to steal money using this scam,” reads a news release issued by the sheriff’s office. “Suspects involved in this activity may represent themselves as a relative of the victim, a bail bondsman or a representative of a law-enforcement agency that has the victim’s relative under arrest. The common method in these scams is the caller’s need for the victim to wire money as soon as possible to help a relative.”

The sheriff’s office said such callers are taking advantage of county residents’ good nature and concerns for their loved ones.

The sheriff’s office recommends residents conduct independent research into the alleged circumstances before wiring funds to help friends or relatives.

Most requests for immediate wire transfers of money are fraudulent, according to the sheriff’s office. Residents may protect themselves by contacting family members to find out if a relative in question is incarcerated or by contacting a local law-enforcement agency to request assistance. Residents should ask the caller for his or her name, location, business name and phone number.

If the caller ’s request does not seem quite right, it probably is not. Wired fund transfers are usually nonrefundable once a con artist receives the payment.