Jacksonville police are investigating a scam targeting elderly people after a recent incident involving an elderly married couple who gave away $105,000.
Police responded to the call Friday at the Bank of America at 10445 San Jose Blvd. A married couple in their late 80s told police they had been contacted at home by a man who said he was a bank detective with Bank of America.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said the man advised the couple he had a suspect in custody and needed help referencing counterfeit money that may be in the couple's possession at home. The man told the victims to read off serial numbers from their money and after they did, he told them the money was counterfeit.
According to police, the man then told the victims to bring the money and meet with someone on San Jose Boulevard. The victims collected $105,000 into a bag and drove to the meeting spot. Police said a man then approached the victims, showed them a badge and took the bag full of money.
After the handoff, the crook placed a device into the husband's pocket and told him to go collect money from inside the bank. Officials said he told the husband the device would record the transaction and aid in the prosecution of the suspect the crook said they had in custody.
Police have not confirmed what purpose the device actually served.
Police said the victims then drove to the bank around 2 p.m. Friday and withdrew $25,000. They said the bank manager tried to get the couple to accept a cashier's check but they insisted on cash.
After returning home, police said the victims received a phone call from the thief. After reading off more serial numbers from the money they withdrew, the crook told them those bills were also counterfeit and an officer would come to their house later that night to give them a receipt for the money they handed over earlier.
Officials said nobody every showed up.
When the couple woke up the next morning, they realized they had been scammed and called their son, who told them to call police.
The sketch shown above is of a man wanted for a similar scam investigators are reviewing for any possible connection. The other theft happened in January, and involved an elderly woman who was also asked to withdraw $25,000 and read-off serial numbers from the money.
Police gave some helpful tips to avoid scams like this:
- Do not ever give out your financial information over the phone. If a caller continues to ask for this information, hang up the phone.
- Never assume a caller is genuine just because they hold some information, such as; your name, address, and account details to try to make the call appear legitimate.
- Verify the identity of any caller – call the business using a phone number you have found yourself in the phone book or internet.
- Law Enforcement agencies and banks do not conduct financial crime investigations by asking a customer to withdraw cash from an account.
- Trust your instinct if something doesn’t sound right to you – it probably isn’t. Hang up the phone.
If you have any information about the scam or scammer, you're asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.