The Effingham Police Department is warning area residents of a familiar scam that has been targeting people in Effingham County. Residents are called by a male subject identifying themselves as a “Public Defender” who goes on to suggest that the victim’s “grandson” was out drinking and was involved in an accident and arrested for a Felony DUI and Reckless Endangerment last night. The caller will then inform the victim that the judge agreed to be lenient if the fine for the damage is payed quickly. Using data harvested online, the caller had the actual name of the the grandson to make the call sound legitimate. The “public defender” assures the grandparent that the judge knows that the grandson is a good kid who just made a mistake and provides an out-of-state address to forward cash to. Effingham Police Chief Jeff Fuesting advises not to send the money.
In one scam-call reported Monday morning, the victim requested to speak to his grandson. The phone was passed to another male posing as the grandson. However, when asked questions to confirm his identity, the phone was handed back to the “public defender” while someone in the background shouted “Your time is up.”
This reoccurring scam originally surfaced in 2008 and has become more elaborate with the availability of personal information on the internet. These calls are often made early in the morning or late at night when victims are likely to be tired. The scammers will ask the victim to quickly wire several thousand dollars to a foreign country or out-of-state address.
Chief Fuesting recommends examining a story thoroughly before acting. If possible, contact the grandson or his parents to verify if the story is true. Failing that, conduct a search for a number the jail the where grandson is allegedly being and verify if he was booked. Report any scams to local law enforcement.