The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office responded to several calls in the month of September involving a scam targeting the elderly population in Lincoln County, said Lt. Andy Binder, Public Information Officer.
Essentially, scammers call saying they are a loan officer with a reputable banking institution and the victims are pre-approved for a $10,000 loan or a $500,000 mortgage. The scammer talks through the terms of the contract, interest rates, and payment schedule with the victims.
The scammers are very professional sounding, convincing, and according to the victims they put them at ease with the transaction. To process and finalize the loan, victims are told to purchase two Green Dot prepaid debit cards in the amount of $500 each at Walgreens. In some instances, they ask for as much as $4,000 in Green Dot cards depending on the false pre-approved loan amount.
“We have also seen cases involving Vanilla Reload Network Cards, which is used as a vehicle to wire money,” said Sheriff Cottle. “The scammers call over the internet from various places throughout the country making it difficult to trace. We found some calls originate in California but the money is transferred to Virginia.”
After receiving the debit payment, the scammers promise to deposit the loan into the victim’s bank account by midnight, which never arrives. When victims follow up with the loan, they are told they owe more for taxes or in some instances they need to pay a few months in advance. In one particular case, a victim was told they would have to pay $500 in processing fees to get their money back.
“Citizens need to use extra precautions when contacted by phone about pre-approved loans,” said Cottle. “Do your research and slow down the process. The scammers want victims to work quickly so they don’t have a lot of time to think about it.”