NewsRegion Martin County


Three elderly Martin County residents targeted by scammers in a matter of days

Posted at 10:57 PM, May 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-11 04:13:35-04

An old gift card scam against the elderly appears to be making a come back on the Treasure Coast.

This week three people have reported receiving calls from scammers, claiming they are the elderly person's grandchild, and in jail needing money.

The scammers ask them to buy gift cards, then give the scammer the gift card information, ultimately ripping them off.

Nancy Whelan, 84, who lives in Martin County, says she got an unusual call Tuesday.

“He sounded just like my grandson,” Whelan said.

The caller said he caught a cold, which Whelan said justified why his voice sounded a little different.

He told her a friend gave him a ride to a pharmacy to get medicine, and police found marijuana in the car, sending them to jail.

“I want you to keep this secret. Please don’t tell anybody," the caller told Whelan. "And I said no Brian, you know I wouldn’t do something like that,” Whelan replied.

Whelan said then a woman got on the call and told her to send money for her grandson.

“They needed $3,000. They have to do these tests to be sure that they weren’t smoking,” Whelan said.

They also told her she would be reimbursed. They gave her clear instructions.

“You have to go to Walmart and get 3,000 in gift cards ... I asked them, 'What am I going to tell them if they question me,'" Whelan said. "Say that you’re buying furniture or something online,” the caller responded.

A store clerk at Walmart questioned why she was buying so many gift cards and called over a manager, who told Whelan she was likely being scammed and stopped the sale.

Whelan called the scammer back and told them she couldn’t get the cards. The scammers told her to go to Best Buy, but Whelan said no.

The call continued, “You’re not going to help your grandson? I said, I’m not doing it. She said, well let him rot in jail tonight.”

Fortunately, Whelan was spared.

But, Martin County deputies say another elderly person lost $4,000 to the gift card scam on the same day.

Thursday, deputies said another victim came forward.

Whelan hopes people hear her story and dodge the next scammer.

“Hang up."

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