Chatham County deputy saves woman $10,000 in phone scam

PITTSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — A Chatham County Sheriff’s Detective was able to foil a phone scam and save a local senior citizen $10,000 moments before the money was shipped.

“I got lucky. I just got extremely lucky,” said Detective Mike Copeland

Copeland says Sunday he got a call about an elderly woman who was victimized in a sweepstakes phone scam.

Copeland was able to act fast Sunday and make some calls to locate the $10,000 before it was shipped. However, he says it’s rare victims ever get their money back in part because victims don’t want to speak up.

“You look at it and say, ‘how could you do that?’ And that’s exactly the questions the victims don’t want their families asking them,” said ‘Copeland.

Copeland says the specific victim in this case was too embarrassed to talk to us on camera, but he says it’s nothing to be embarrassed about because it happens to thousands of victims a year with different scams, and they say it happens specifically to senior citizens.
“It’s a huge problem and it’s always been a problem,” said Dennis Streets.

Streets is the Executive Director of the Chatham County Council on Aging.

He’s worked in the field for more than 30 years and has seen a lot of the elderly fall victim to scams. He says with today’s technology it’s only getting worse.

“The availability of Facebook and so much information about people it’s important to be cautious and stay smart and stay safe”

Copeland says the scams can affect anyone not just seniors, so don’t be afraid to reach out to police and ask questions.

“If it truly is legitimate, have them send you something in the mail, “he said. “There is nothing urgent that you have to do right now,” Copeland added.

There are many different kind of scams out there. For a list of several common ones and how to protect yourself from them click here.

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