JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) – There is a scam going on in Johnson County. One grandmother is afraid she may lose her home after spending $4,500 after a scammer said her son was in jail.
It’s a scheme we’ve told you about before but now the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department is warning people to be aware of the recent threat.
Edna Eldridge got a call at home, the person on the phone said her son was in jail and needed $4,500 to get out. So Edna, focused on helping her son, followed the instructions given to her on the phone. This was a scam and Edna was told to go to the Greenwood Best Buy and buy Kohl’s gift cards. She was then supposed to meet someone at Kohl’s to give them the cards. After buying the cards, Edna suspected something wasn’t right and realized it was a scam. Her son was at home and not in jail.
Edna says when she was at the Best Buy no one warned her of a potential scam.
“Whenever I went to pay for the card, the lady at the counter said ‘somebody is going to get a nice gift card’ and that’s all she said,” said Edna. “She never questioned me on anything.”
Best Buy released the following statement on the situation:
“We feel badly that Ms. Eldridge seems to be the victim of a terrible scam. Our employees are trained to look out for suspicious activity and advocate for customers. In this instance, our employees asked the customer several times if she knew who she was buying the cards for and warned the customer about a potential phone scam but she insisted on purchasing the gift cards. If customers receive a phone call demanding payment via a gift card, do not buy the gift card. Instead, call the police and report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission.”
Edna’s grandson Chris Eldridge has been trying to return the gift cards and get the money back for more than a week.
“These people can look you up, they can get online and get your families’ information,” said Chris. “Make sure you call your family, don’t run out and assume they’re in jail, don’t assume you owe money to the IRS. Go the extra mile and make sure you’re not giving anybody any money they shouldn’t get it.”
Johnson County Sheriff’s Department also sent out a warning about the scam:
The gift card numbers are redeemed online very fast so by the time the victim figures out what happened the scammer already has their money. Other times the victim realizes it is a scam before the gift cards have been redeemed. In those instances sometimes but not always a store will refund money to the victim. This also happens a lot with the scammer posing as the Internal Revenue Service. Almost always these scammers are out of state or even the country using spoofing numbers. These case are extremely difficult to investigate successfully. Law Enforcement, court personnel, or the IRS will NEVER ask for money over the phone. They would also never ask for gift cards. Our advice would be that if a call like this comes in, call the relative that is supposed to be in trouble and also call a trusted family member. Most of the time the intended victims do not fall for this however it is important to note that these scammers are very good at with they do and are very convincing! They will try to make the intended victims complete the scam fast. Fortunately other family members very often find out what is going on and sometimes help to stop the scam before it is too late. Other times however the intended victims are not that lucky.
The problem the Eldridge family says is that Best Buy says they can’t return the money because they are Kohl’s Gift cards. Kohl’s says they can’t give Edna her money because she bought the cards at Best Buy. So, now Edna has nine $500 gift cards and she may not be able to pay for her home because she spent her savings buying the cards. The family is hoping someone, either one of the companies or the community, will step up to help.