JACKSON COUNTY, Ga. - The Jackson County Sheriff's Office is warning of a scam targeting the elderly with a very common tactic. Officials said the scammers pretend to be their victim's grandchildren and then ask for large paints of money.
Marion Mahaffey, 80, told Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum she usually lets the answering machine screen calls on her landline, but a few days ago did answer a call from someone claiming to be her grandson.
"My Matt, I don't think he'd have to say ‘I'm your grandson,’" said Mahaffey.
She said the fake Matt knew her nickname, her deceased husband's name, her address, and other very personal specifics.
Mahaffey said he claimed he'd had an accident while visiting the Dominican Republic and needed $9,000 for bail.
"He used every convincing technique he thought he could. But I finally just got so disgusted with him I hung up on him," said Mahaffey.
Jackson County Sheriff Janis Mangum said recently a grandfather did take the bait when someone claimed his granddaughter had been in an accident and would be arrested if he didn't send money.
"The gentleman did send money, quite a bit of money," said Sheriff Mangum. "Around $14,000."
She said one scammer pretended to represent her office to convince people to send gift cards or cash for missing jury duty.
"You're never going to get a call like that, you'll never be arrested for missing a jury summons not in Jackson County," said Sheriff Mangum.
She said scammers use fear and intimidation blended with personal information to steal from the elderly, which didn't work on Marion Mahaffey.
"Do not fall for that first call and respond to it, contact your law enforcement," she said.
The sheriff said an 80-year-old woman was scammed out of nearly $3,000 when she sent someone money in hopes of winning a big sweepstake contest.