Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam

Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam title=
Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam
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Source: Santa Barbara Police Department

On July 15, 2021, Santa Barbara Police Patrol Officers received a report from a 90-year-old victim about a telephone scam. The victim informed the Officers he received a phone call from a person alleging to be an employee of the United States Social Security Office, informing him his benefits and identity had been compromised.

The caller stated the victim owes money to the agency that needs to be paid using gift cards and a wire transfer. Over several days the scammers continually harassed the victim posing as law enforcement officials and threatened him with arrest warrants if the victim did not pay the restitution demanded. The scammers even went as far as to pose over the phone as Santa Barbara Police Officers that had an “arrest warrant” for the victim.

The victim provided the scammers with $6,000 in gift card payments and wired $50,000 to a bank outside the country.

Santa Barbara Police Detectives were made aware of this case and immediately started to investigate this scam. Detectives did extensive work to obtain suspect information and final location of the wire transfer. The United States Secret Service was contacted and assisted the Santa Barbara Police in this investigation. The investigation revealed the money had been wired to a bank in Thailand. Detectives and the Secret Service were able to cancel the wire transfer and successfully returned the money to the elderly victim, who would have lost $50,000 of hard-earned savings.

The Santa Barbara Police Department would like to remind community members to never provide personal information such as bank account numbers or addresses over the phone to an unknown government agency. Law Enforcement will never call to request a payment such as these. Scammers purposefully target our elder community members. If you have an elderly family member or friend, please have a discussion with them about these types of scams. Please visit https://www.identitytheft.gov/ for more information.

This case is still under investigation by Detectives and the U.S. Secret Service.

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Luvaduck Jul 30, 2021 12:49 PM
Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam

People over about 65 are easier to scam b/c they grew up in the years before the internet made everyone potential victims to scammers in other countries and big cities. (Much harder to do if potential victims only have a party line, bank transfers are slow, most people don't have credit cards and the culture severely punishes those who prey on the elderly.)

Emmenanthe Jul 30, 2021 09:05 AM
Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam

Some black-and-white rules may help older people change their phone habits:
1. NEVER pick up the phone just because it rings. Let it go to voicemail.
2. NEVER pick up the phone UNLESS you recognize the caller. Let it go to voicemail.
There is NO CALL SO URGENT that it cannot go to the answering machine/voicemail, be played back, and dealt with thereafter.
3. NEVER respond to a voicemail that is threatening, bullying, or nasty in tone or language.
4. NEVER respond to a voicemail from someone you don't know. If it's truly important, there will be a US mail follow-up. Wait for that, and respond then after you have had the opportunity to assess it.

condorhiker Jul 30, 2021 02:25 PM
Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam

I bought a phone answering system for my landline that blocks robocalls and scam calls. It's really changed my life. I went from 5 - 10 unwanted calls per day to less than one per month that gets thru. The system is an AT&T CL82407 DECT 6.0 Expandable Answering System. Bought it on Amazon for $80.

biguglystick Jul 30, 2021 08:14 AM
Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam

I've got that Spidey Sense that Parvo Pup mentions in their comment, but the scammers are getting more and more savvy, and they are everywhere! These days I get 3-6 attempts by phone a week, and by email, it's a daily deluge. I'm so sick of it! They scammed my uncle out of some money, and they infiltrate dating sites for widowers. I wish there would be some allocations for law enforcement to better focus on and deal with this.

jak Jul 30, 2021 07:59 AM
Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam

The problem is that the Santa Barbara police have no authority in Thailand and for the most part are not authorized to negotiate directly with foreign governments. The involvement of the secret service brought about the breakthrough in this case. Kudos to the local cops for effectively and quickly getting the feds involved. As for serious penalties, if some powerful interests in their corrupt home country (such as a bank) lost $50k to a “clawback” …. That scammers organs may currently be offered for sale on the dark web.

ParvoPup Jul 29, 2021 09:36 PM
Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam

The older I have gotten - the more skeptical and distrusting I have become after enduring decades of scams, cons and rip-offs.

Now I'm beginning to wonder if at a certain age you lose that spider sense and become prey?

Be a shame to waste all that expertise with doubt and distrust in the last years of your life.

I much prefer being ornery.

And yes,

get off my lawn.

winter Jul 29, 2021 07:17 PM
Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam

Great work !
This is hard to catch..
I have been a caregiver, for many years....
Even with family, in the house, these scammers, want a credit card number, an appointment to come do plumbing, tree removal, electrical, charities, etc.
The seniors , are often lonely....even with family around....they love to answer the phone....get the wallet...pay for something
Glad this was caught !
Just be careful....
Guard your loved ones...

JB86 Jul 29, 2021 06:25 PM
Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam

Great police work here! In this case police apparently got cooperaton from the victim - or their advocates - and were able to quickly act. I have seen cases where the victim denied the fraud and did not cooperate even after the money was long gone. These tend to be 'romance scams.' Not a lot you can do when the victim doesn't get that they have been had.

Randy Parks Jul 29, 2021 03:39 PM
Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam

And they do it in person... years ago, a semi-older lady "met" my mother inside Robinson's-May, struck up a conversation, then (happened) to see mom again once outside, and had a minor "fall", so mom helped her to bench... another scammer got involved, the 3rd party told the 2 new "friends" their story ... short version; they got mom to go to bank and they stole $7,000 in cash. Forgot the actual story they used, but 3rd party acted like they didn't know the lady. SBPD officer revealed that it was a satanic cult working out of LA - true story! Warn the elderly!

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