Fortunately, it ended well for a Great Bend man who fell prey to a phone scam last week, but that is rarely the case, said Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir.
“He received a call saying his bank account was involved in money laundering,” he said. “They said send $8,000 in cash or they would swear out a warrant for his arrest.”
Panicking, he withdrew the money and shipped it overnight via UPS to a small town in Pennsylvania, the Sheriff said.
That was last Wednesday afternoon. The guy had second thoughts and came to the Barton County Sheriff’s Office bright and early Thursday morning.
Bellendir said they were able to contact the police department in the Pennsylvania community. They stopped the package on the shipping dock and saved the full amount.
“This is rare,” he said. “This is only the second time ever that we’ve been able to recover money.”
Sadly, this was not an isolated incident.
“This goes on weekly,” he said. “There are hundreds of these that we don’t know about.
“We don’t call you up and tell you to send us money,” he said of local, state and federal law enforcement. “That’s not how this works.”
In most cases, officers will just knock on one’s door.
And, he said, they don’t take gift cards, phone cards, wire transfers or money orders.
Requests for these are all scams, he said.
He suggested telling the caller you will call them right back, then look up the agency allegedly calling. The chances are the numbers won’t match.
Another scam commonly impacting older residents is the grandchild scam where someone calls and says “This is your grandchild and I’m in jail. Please send money for my bail.” The callers are vague, but often seniors are easily fooled.
“Ask their name and date of birth,” Bellendir said. They will likely hang up.
“In a lot of cases, those who fall victim are people who have never had any interaction with law enforcement,” he said, adding they don’t understand the system. “They get a call and freak out.”
Also, if one has questions or doubts about the call, they can call law enforcement.
Seniors are common targets of scammers, but this victim was much younger. Bellendir said everyone has to be vigilant.