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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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Spalding Woman Arrested in Scam on the Elderly

SPALDING COUNTY - Sheriff Darrell Dix, “On Wednesday February 3, 2020, I was contacted by Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee about a family member of a Baldwin County resident who had been the victim of a phone scam. The elderly victim, who is a Florida resident, had sent a total of $24,000.00 to the scammers before her family learned of it and stopped it.

The scam that worked on the victim in this case was that a male called the victim and identified himself by name as her grandson. He gave her the story that he needed her help to get out of jail after being in an accident and being charged with DUI and other traffic offenses. He told the victim that his bond was $8,000.00 and he needed it in cash. Another male called the victim posing as a bail bondsman and requested the money for her grandson’s bail, where to send it to, and how to send it. The victim gathered $8,000.00 in cash, and it was delivered via UPS to an address on Ray Street in Griffin.

The following day the male posing as her grandson called again and said that a victim of the crash had died and that he needed an additional $16,000.00 in cash for bail on the new charges. The female victim once again bundled the cash and sent it via UPS to the same Ray Street address.

While working jointly with the victim’s family and UPS staff, Spalding County Investigators were able to have the package tracked and intercepted. Once it was secured and in our custody we created a fake package and had one of our Special Operations Investigators pose as the UPS delivery person. When he started across the yard at the Ray Street address he was met by a Hispanic female who pulled up in front of the address in a minivan. The female approached the Investigator, verified who the package was intended for, signed for it, and took custody of it. As she started to walk away she was arrested by our surveillance team.

The female arrested has been identified as Ruth Garcia, H/F, 42 Years of age. She has been charged with Theft by Deception and Conspiracy to Commit Fraud. She is currently residing in the Spalding County Jail.

We were unable to locate the original $8000.00, but we have the $16,000.00 secured and we are waiting for the victim’s family members to pick it up and return it to her.

We are still following leads in this case to work as far up the food chain as we can on this scam. We don’t know if we will be able to identify other victims or recover any of their assets as we move forward but we are going to do all we can to track it down.

We are asking that everyone be aware and make others aware of these and other scams. If someone calls with a story needing money please take the time to get the information from the caller and try to verify their story. If they say they are calling you from a jail, independently get the phone number to the jail they say they are at, call it, and ask if your loved one is there. This same type of scam also happens regarding hospitals where victims get calls saying that a loved one needs treatment, and it can’t be done until money is paid up front. Also, please remember that nobody is going to send you money if you have to pay money to them first.

Many times people who fall victim to scams are left feeling embarrassed, and this shouldn’t be the case at all. Scammers are professionals who know their jobs and have very convincing stories with information they are able to find about their victims. This information is often learned by scammers from social media posts by the victim, family members, or friends, and they manipulate it to create their victims.

If you have elderly family members, other family members, or friends who you have concerns about potentially falling victim to scams, please sit down with them and have a conversation about scams and how they operate. If you need information on preventing scams or how to not fall victim to scams, you can call the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office at 770-467-4282 and ask to speak to Major Mike Morris. If requested, we will come to your church, group meetings, or gatherings, and conduct presentations on scam awareness and prevention.”

Submitted 2.5.21
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