Stop scams before they happen
Just about every day, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office receives reports from residents who have been scammed out of their money — whether over the phone, online or in person. Sadly, some county residents have lost their entire savings, large portions of their wealth and even their homes to these schemes.
In recent years, scammers have become more prolific in their thefts and increasingly creative and bold in their elaborate ruses, making them difficult to detect.
Adding to the problem? South Carolina ranks second-to-last in the nation for states with the best elder-abuse protections, including those against financial fraud.
It is our belief at the Sheriff’s Office that the best way for us to fight fraud in Beaufort County is together — and through prevention.
We urge all residents to learn more about how to stop scammers in their tracks and to help us spread the word on the latest scams we’re seeing in Beaufort County.
If you receive a phone call from someone purporting to be with the Sheriff's Office, please contact us to verify the identity of the deputy before continuing any discussion with the caller.
If you think you've been a victim of a scam ...
Call our non-emergency dispatch line at 843-524-2777 and ask to speak to a deputy.
A 31-year-old Hilton Head Plantation woman reported to Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office investigators that she received a text message from 808-400-4819 purporting to be a “Bank of America Fraud Alert” regarding an alleged transaction over Zelle, the bank’s digital service used to transfer money. The text message asked if she was attempting to make a […]Read More
A 59-year-old Bluffton man reported to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office that he received a call from someone named “Jonathan Smith,” who said he was a representative from Amazon.com and provided the man with an “Amazon Identification Number.” Smith, who had called from an 843 area code, told the man he was calling about a […]Read More
A 78-year-old Sun City Hilton Head woman reported to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office that she had received a voicemail from someone purporting to be from Amazon.com in reference to a credit card on her Amazon account being used fraudently. Then woman called the number provided in the voicemail and was transferred to “the fraud […]Read More
In order to charge someone with a crime in Beaufort County, jurisdiction must first be established.
More often than not, online and telephone scams originate outside of our county, state and even the country and therefore outside of the Sheriff’s Office’s jurisdiction.
When it comes to contractor fraud, those cases are typically considered civil disputes. In other words, they are not criminal cases but rather ones that would be adjudicated through filing a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas.
Though these cases fall outside the jurisdiction of law enforcement individually, it is important to file an incident report with law enforcement nonetheless. Contractor fraud becomes a criminal matter when there is a pattern of fraud established in Beaufort County, placing the matter back into the Sheriff’s Office’s jurisdiction.
The above circumstances illustrate why it’s so important to stop scams before they happen.
There are many great resources online that offer tips on how to identify and avoid a potential scam, such as the National Council on Aging.
Here are some of our recommendations:
- Reduce the number of calls you are receiving by registering your landline and cellphone into the National Do Not Call Registry.
- Be skeptical of unsolicited contacts from individuals you do not know — whether online, over the phone or in person.
- Be skeptical of links sent to you over email, by text or that pop up on your computer screen. Even emails and texts that appear to be from someone you know might not be.
- Don’t open email attachments from someone you don’t know or that you weren’t expecting to receive. If you receive an attachment from a friend or family member over email, contact them to verify that they did, in fact, send this to you.
- If you hear the words “pay with gift cards,” assume this is a scam.
- If someone is pressuring you or threatening you to make a decision, assume this is a scam.
- Take your time. Run the scenario by neighbors, friends or loved ones before acting on anything.
- Ask for the name of the person you are talking to and write it down. It is also important to write down the phone number and business name.
- Never give someone you don’t know “remote access” to your computer.
- Don’t share personal information with anyone who has called you, emailed you or visited you unsolicited.
- Never sign blank contracts.
- Call Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office’s non-emergency line at 843-524-2777 if you have any questions about whether someone might be trying to scam you.
One of the most important things you can do is to learn more about the types of scams targeting older folks and share this information with your older friends and family members so they can be on alert for the signs.
The FBI’s webpage on Elder Fraud is a good resource and includes information on how to report fraud.
In most cases, the money is gone forever.
After you’ve discovered that you were likely scammed, it is important to freeze your credit and call your bank or financial institutions to discuss your options.
It is also important to file a report with law enforcement. This helps us spread the word so that others can protect themselves.