Friday, September 20, 2013

Scammers using Dunwoody businesses to scam targets

Dunwoody Police posted the following update on their Facebook account today: (emphases added)

An elderly man was the victim of a flimflam scheme today at approximately 11:30 AM that began front of the Ace Hardware on Dunwoody Village PW. The victim was approached by a well-dressed black male who claimed to have just received a $300,000 settlement and could not return to the Sudan with it or risk being killed. The suspect said he needed help giving the money to the needy. The victim drove the suspect to the Hickory House where they met another well dress black male in his 40s who claimed to be the restaurant's manager. This suspect showed the victim a large amount of cash he had on him. The first suspect needed proof that the victim was financially secure so that he wouldn't have to worry about him spending half of the $300K on himself. The victim withdrew $10,000 from his account and gave it to the "Hickory House Manager" who was supposed to have shown it to the first suspect and return of his $10K and half of the $300K. Both suspects fled the scene unbeknownst to the victim.

Usually, a 419 Scam is perpetrated via email.  Most ISPs are able to filter out these emails as the spam that they are.  There are even communities dedicated to scambaiting - to waste the time of these criminals in outrageous ways and thus prevent them (temporarily) from targeting real victims.  419 Eater gave rise to the Amazon best seller "Greetings in Jesus' Name!", a hilarious compilation of true stories of the wildest scam baits.

Dunwoody has had its share of scammers targeting homeowners:  tricking (usually elderly) residents outside their homes while a partner enters the house and robs them blind.  In the comments of the above post, visitors commented on confronting individuals who seemed to be casing out houses and high-tailed it out of there when called out.  This is the first time a Dunwoody business has unwittingly played a part in a scam.  

It's no longer enough just to watch our homes.  Now even brick-and-mortar businesses in Dunwoody's heart - even an institution like Old Hickory House - are being used.  

Where was the real manager of Hickory House while this scam was being perpetrated in their establishment?  Or - was the criminal the real manager?  

Business owners and managers in Dunwoody, even in the Village, have more to be aware of in their day-to-day operations.  So like homeowners, brick-and-mortar business owners have to be quick on the draw with 911 if they see anything suspicious.  I feel safe in saying the police would much rather be called out to a suspicious circumstance and have it turn out to be innocent, than to post stories like the one above to their Facebook.

Finally, let's keep an eye on and support and protect our senior residents.   I'll leave the details to someone who can speak in more detail to geriatric psychology.  The fact remains that scammers love to target this age demographic.  Perhaps the police or City Hall could produce an educational event or series or other outreach to our Dunwoody seniors about the latest in scams with advice to protect themselves.

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