A 91-year-old James Island man gave two strangers $3,000 after they promised him $26,000, and Charleston police warn that such “found money” scams usually come in clusters.
Charleston police detective Caryn O’Dell said the scam works like this: A con artist tells an elderly person that he found a large sum of cash and asks if the elderly person dropped it. Typically, a second con artist walks by, and the first scammer asks that person the same question, O’Dell said.
The second con artist generally claims to work for a lawyer or a banker and consults his or her “boss,” who says that the two con artists and the elderly person can split the money after everyone makes a good faith payment, according to O’Dell.
“They prey on older people,” O’Dell said. “They are sometimes unsophisticated about financial matters. They’re isolated, and they have tangible assets: homeownership, pensions, Social Security. And they’re happy to have someone to talk to.”
In this case, two people came upon the elderly man as he loaded his purchases in his truck at the James Island Walmart. He drove the man and woman, to his bank to withdraw the money, according to the police report.
The elderly man drove them back to Walmart to exchange the money he withdrew for smaller bills, the report said, but they never returned.
O’Dell said the man’s case marked the first instance reported this year, but she investigated as many as 10 such cases last year. Read more in Tuesday’s editions of The Post and Courier.
Reach Allyson Bird at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/allysonjbird.