The Limestone County Sheriff's Office is investigating methods scammers are using to victimize local residents. One victim was scammed over $41,000, and another more than $24,000.
A 60-year-old Limestone County woman reported a scam in which someone impersonated United States military personnel to attract people looking for a relationship. The scammer created fake social media accounts and stole photos and information from a service member's social media account.
The scammer then created a tragedy to gain the victim's trust and asked the woman to cash a check from them. Banks are required to make funds available after a few days, but it can take weeks for them to realize that the check is forged. This leaves the victim liable for the loss, and this woman lost almost $42,000.
“They’re older, they’re more trustworthy, they think everybody’s still good, which, nowadays, everybody is not good," said Kenny Terry.
Terry says he knows first-hand how people prey on the elderly. He says his mother fell victim to a scam recently, and he hates to hear there are others.
“Those people are real vulnerable because they’ve lost a loved one they’ve spent their whole life with," Terry said.
A 73-year-old Limestone County woman lost nearly $25,000 after a scammer told her that she'd won a large sum of money, but that she needed to pay taxes and fees before she could receive it. One document the scammer sent the victim was forged to be from the Alabama State Treasury.
“The elderly people see those things and they think, ‘Well, okay, I can put this $20,000 up and it’s a way to help my family,'" Terry said.
The sheriff's office warns citizens that anything requiring money up front is a scam and that should you send money, you will likely never recover it. They say it is difficult for law enforcement to identify scammers, as they are typically not from the U.S.
Terry says he’s got a message for others who have elderly family members.
“Take care of your parents, because that’s what we’re supposed to do, people," he said. "Be on top of them. Be aware of their finances. Make sure you know who they’re talking to and pay attention to what’s going on around your family, so you don’t fall into these pitfalls."