Social Security scam swindles elderly man out of $800: ‘That’s a lot of money’

Posted at 6:10 PM, Aug 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-26 18:22:06-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- It's a scam that begins with a phone call from an 804 number. For at least one person, it ended with them losing $800. CBS 6 Problem Solvers spoke to several people about scammers that claim to be working for the Social Security Administration.

Donna Haynesworth says she is convinced criminals looking to scam residents out of their hard-earned money are getting craftier by the day.

“Because they are not calling from 1-800 numbers anymore. It’s an 804 number and a lot of times it’s the same three numbers as your cell phone number... So, it looks like it could be a legit number,” said Haynesworth.

She and several others chimed in on a Facebook post recently when a friend warned others about the influx of scam phone calls she had received.

Haynesworth told the CBS 6 Problem Solvers she got a call from someone pretending to be with the Social Security Administration. They claimed her Social Security number had been compromised during a recent administration breach.

Virginia State Police warned Virginians of the scam earlier this month, targeting certain area codes throughout the Commonwealth. The scam specifically targets numbers with 804, 540, and 434 area codes and involves a caller claiming that a social security number was compromised.

Haynesworth says she didn’t fall for it, but not everyone was so lucky.

One woman told CBS 6 Problem Solvers that her 85-year-old father-in-law fell victim to the scam and sent $800 to the alleged scammer.

Although Haynesworth says she hung up and blocked the caller who called her, she says the calls continued.

“They went into this same little spiel and they were telling me that for a fee, they could work with me to get all this information fixed and worked out. They told me they’d put a freeze on my Social Security number if I didn’t make a payment to get it rectified.”

Though Haynesworth just ignored the call and avoided falling victim, she knows others have lost money due to the scam.

“For someone to be scammed out of $800. That's a lot… that could be someone’s rent for the month… That's a lot of money," she said. "I do think it's a scare tactic and it's how they're able to get so many people to buy into it and give their money so freely like that.”

Officials with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) said the public should know that the Social Security Administration would never call you seeking personal banking information.

“It's a pretty common rip off, this Social Security scam,” said Barry Moore with the BBB. “More people than not, seriously, will pay that only to find out later that it was a scam and they got ripped off and then they are too embarrassed to tell anybody and therefore more consumers get ripped off.”

Moore says if someone thinks they've been scammed, they should report it to local law enforcement and to the BBB, so they can keep the public informed.

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