Old bail scam returns to target concerned relatives

Published 6:56 pm Friday, July 19, 2019


Washington Daily News

Reports of a familiar bail scam are reappearing in Beaufort County, reopening the conversation about internet safety and awareness.

The bail scam preys on grandparents’ compassion through a caller pretending to be a grandchild or relative in an urgent situation, typically a car wreck or arrest in a different state, and demanding bail money through wire transfer or mail. Although the scam is not new, the sense of urgency can be convincing.

“It’s an old (scam) that’s being revisited,” said Washington Police and Fire Services Director Stacy Drakeford. “… Individuals get caught up in the moment and don’t think.”

One Beaufort County grandparent almost fell victim to the scam recently, even withdrawing the $8,900 demanded and preparing to send it to an address in Miami before she called her son out of concern. Once she learned that her granddaughter was still asleep in bed, she knew she was dealing with con artists.

Her biggest concern, however, was the amount of personal information the scammers were able to obtain about her family, she said. Even though she is not on the internet herself, the con artists were still able to find her phone number, name, location and relatives’ names, making the situation much more realistic.

“All you have to have is a few pieces of information about someone,” Drakeford said. “It is easy to get it with all of these different websites where you can go and do driver’s license checks and history checks on people, as long as you got a little bit of information about that individual.”

According to Drakeford, it can be easy to fall victim to such personal scams, but there are precautions one can take to avoid being taken advantage of, including a healthy dose of skepticism.

“Be careful,” Drakeford said. “Like in that case, where they say your grandchild’s been in a wreck or going to jail. Sometimes if you just take a minute and try to track down the parents or try to track them down, then that will assist you in perhaps not falling for that particular scam.”