Photo by the Associated Press
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Scammers are targeting the elderly by impersonating Jacksonville Sheriff's Officers.
JSO says an 84-year-old woman was contacted by a person claiming to be Captain Frank Mueller with JSO and provided an ID number. The victim said the suspect knew her name, address and son's name.
During the phone call, the suspect asked if the victim withdrew money recently and had her read the serial numbers off the $20 bills. The suspect sounded convincing by acting like he was checking the serial numbers, placing her on hold several times and seeming to talk with a District Attorney. The suspect told her that the money withdrawn was counterfeit and that a person of interest was in custody but needed help gathering more evidence to press charges.
The suspect requested the victim to withdraw $25,000, saying the bank tellers were also involved in the counterfeit money scheme and that the money would be coming from somewhere else.
The victim was told to wear a red scarf at the bank for the undercover officers. She was told to say the money was for her son to buy a car with cash since the bank tellers were involved. After receiving the money, the victim could not find the agreed upon meet up location on Emerson Street and after driving around the suspect called her. She was told to pull off the road at her current location, which was an unknown parking lot.
In the parking lot, the suspect came up to her driver's side window and said their agreed password 'Sam'. The suspect showed a gold badge, which was placed on his waistline, when she asked to see it. The money was handed over, reassuring him that she did not touch it.
Later, the victim received a call saying the bank tellers were arrested.
After the victim told her son about the incident, she called JSO and found out that there is no Captain Frank Mueller with JSO.
JSO responded to the area of San Jose Blvd. and Hendricks Ave. on Jan. 9. The victim said the suspect had a different badge than that of the officers.
According to her phone log, the suspects were calling from 904-630-7600 and a private line. The 904-630-7600 phone number is that of a JSO information line, and police believe the suspects are routing the phone calls to make it look official.
One suspect is described as having light colored hair and a beard. He was wearing a grey pullover jacket and pants.
Anyone who has any information about these individuals is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email us at JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.
On Your Side tips from JSO for protecting yourself against scammers:
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 to try to make the call appear legitimate, such as your name, address and account details.
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.
First Coast News