Santa Barbara Police Officers Help Recover Funds Stolen in Elder Scam
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.