Two incidences of a phone scam have been reported in Dawson County in the past few weeks, an issue Sheriff Jeff Johnson says should put senior citizens on high alert.
Recently, a local couple reported to the Dawson County Sheriff's Office that they had been contacted and told that their grandson was arrested. The caller reportedly said that if an attorney wasn't paid immediately, their grandson would be sent to prison.
Johnson said the couple began to withdraw the necessary money, but doubts made them contact the sheriff's office, and an investigation revealed the call had been a scam.
Last week, a woman contacted the Dawson County News to report that she had experienced a similar incident in which a man pretending to be her grandson called her, saying he had been arrested and needed bail money.
The woman, Pam Jernigan, said she suspected the man because it didn't sound like her grandson, though the caller explained he had been beaten up and his nose broken, hence the different voice.
Jernigan said she hung up the phone without giving out any payment, but said she fears for others, including the elderly, who may not be so wise.
"I didn't want to sound rude, because the man called me grandma, and I didn't want to not recognize my own grandson," she said. "But I also didn't think it was true. I'm concerned because this person seemed to have done their research, and I'm worried that other people
might fall for it."
"Predators frequently target emotions, knowing that passion often overrides reason," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, these scams often target our senior community. Predators may view our seniors as being more vulnerable, having more disposable cash and being less inclined to object. Understanding this makes it even more important to stay involved with and protect our older generation."
Johnson said that another scam has been reported in the area referred to as an asphalt paving scam, or gypsy paving scam.
"These types of scams often are initiated by a suspect claiming to have extra paving materials from a previous job," Johnson said. "They often result in inflated costs (in comparison to the originally agreed upon price), poor quality materials and some even use motor oil sprayed onto the driveway to present a new appearance. We encourage our community to exercise grave consideration when dealing with any door-to-door salesmen."
Johnson said that law enforcement agencies will not call demanding money or threaten anyone with jail if they fail to pay.
If you suspect that a caller is trying to scam you, do not release any personal or financial information, and inform the caller that once you hang up you will be contacting the sheriff's office.
The Dawson County Sheriff's Office can be contacted at it's non-emergency number, (706) 344-3636 or for general information at (706) 344-3535.