KERSHAW COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - A Kershaw County woman is trying to figure out her next steps after being scammed out of nearly $20,000.
“I have gotten nine calls today that were fraudulent,” Susan Brundage said.
Brundage says scammers have called her multiple times offering her opportunities for grant money, or scaring her into thinking that her social security number had been compromised by drug dealers.
“This Billy Watson called me and said that I qualified for a federal grant, but that I needed to pay the distribution fees and taxes to South Carolina,” she said.
In each instance, Brundage said the scammers were convincing, and she fell for it.
She purchased gift cards, in three different instances, totaling about $20,000.
It’s money she’ll likely never see again.
Bailey Parker, with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs, says such tactics are not uncommon and can be red flags that people should look for, to avoid being scammed themselves.
“If the contact from a person or an organization comes out of the blue, it is most likely going to be a scam,” said Parker. “Organizations, and even federal agencies or state agencies, are not just going to reach out to you unsolicited.”
Parker says after a person hands over the money, it can be nearly impossible to get it back. Something Brundage has found out first hand.
“They suggested for me to contact the places where I bought the gift card, which is Walmart and Target for the first one, and I sent all this to them and they said I’m sorry we can’t do anything, there’s nothing left on the card,” said Brundage.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs says you should report any possible scams, but adds that oftentimes these cases go unreported because of the stigma of falling victim to these crimes.
People are falling for scams no matter the age, no matter the education. The sooner you can report it, the better.
As for Brundage, she’s staying positive and holding out hope even after losing thousands of dollars.
“I said, ‘what am I gonna do go home and cry?’ I said, ‘I’m gonna go sing to God the high notes and somehow, someway, somebody is going to figure out a way to help me,’” said Brundage.
Another tip for avoiding scams is to remember that the government will never ask for you to pay anything in order to get money.
And never give private information to a cold caller.
Reports of similar scams pop up on a consistent basis across the state.
In Orangeburg County, the Sheriff’s Office recently sent a warning to residents saying a scammer is using text messages to offer people a large amount of money, in exchange for a pre-paid card. But after a victim gives them the info from the pre-paid card, the scammer disappears.
One person was recently offered $80,000 in exchange for a $4,000 gift card, deputies said.
“This is just as fake as you can get,” Sheriff Ravenell said. “Nobody is giving you a penny for your hard earned money.”
The OCSO says anyone who gets a call or text from a similar scammer should report it to them at 803-534-3550, or Crimes Stoppers at 888-CRIME-SC (888-274-6372).
Here are more important tips to avoid scams: