Scammer threatens WIS reporter after being confronted via phone

By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's almost the season for turkey and dressing, Christmas trees and lights -- and scammers. Police say you need to be extra cautious of people trying to take your money during the holidays.

An Irmo man says his wife came home in tears Tuesday after a frightening phone call. "She told me that she was contacted by a detective in New York, that she made bad on a loan and they needed $650 from her or she was going to jail," said the man, who doesn't want to be identified because he's afraid of what the alleged scammers may do.

The man also said his wife was called on her cell phone and the person she spoke to had her Social Security number and birth date.

Irmo police say information is easy to obtain in this world of technology, so you have to do everything you can to protect it. "The suspects who call are very good at what they do," said Irmo Police Chief Brian Buck.

Buck says you have to be cautious. "They know what to say to get you scared or upset or nervous to try to entice you into believing that they are who they say they are," said Buck.

Irmo investigators took a report on Tuesday from the victim who told them his wife had been scammed. "He said he was with the police department and he gave her a case number," said the man. "When he comes up with a case number and says he's with the police department and had all of her information there in front of him, that's what got her really scared."

Buck says what the caller said was a red flag. "Law enforcement is not going to call a person and say we need your banking information because you have an outstanding loan that we're trying to collect," said Buck. "Law enforcement doesn't collect loans."

Buck says you should always question what you're being asked and get enough information to verify what you're told. "If they say 'I'm from New York and I'm a police officer,' say 'where do you work in New York? What department do you work for? How do we get in touch with you?'" Buck said.

Those are all questions the family said they asked, but after the phone call, they did give bank information to the caller who tried to take $650. "She was all scared, crying and all and she gave them some information on our checking account, we went to the bank and because I had a check in the mail, we did it so it would be covered," said the man.

But the man called the number and got concerned, so they went back to the bank and closed the account before any money was taken.

We called the number the woman was given. The man who answered gave consent to record the call, confessed to the scam and even threatened reporter Brandi Cummings.

If you think you're the victim of a scam, the first places you should report it are the state attorney general's office at 803-734-3970 and the Department of Consumer Affairs at 800-922-1594.

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