GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — Dacula resident Tammy Owens says she got a phone call from someone claiming to be an agent with the Social Security Administration. The agent said the FBI had issued a warrant for her arrest.
“They said that a car had been found on the side of the road on the border in Texas, and there were drugs, blood splatter and paperwork with my name on them, and that I was being accused of money laundering and drug trafficking,” she said.
“They said that a car had been found on the side of the road on the border in Texas, and there were drugs, blood splatter and paperwork with my name on them, and that I was being accused of money laundering and drug trafficking.” pic.twitter.com/VOctrQWdvg
— Valencia E. Jones (@vjreports3) October 13, 2020
The agent gained her trust by providing a phony FBI website and phone number that matched the number he was calling from.
“'[He said] I want you to get in your car and listen to what I’m gonna tell you to do,’ and then he took me to my banks,” she said. He then had her withdraw more than $10,000 and spend the money on gift cards at various grocery stores.
Hours later, she went home and told her husband, and they called the FBI. “They said, ‘Ma’am’ that’s a scam.’ And so I immediately called the police,” said Owens. All the gift cards were spent in New York City, and she can’t get her money back.
Gwinnett County police say these scams are all too common. “If the government calls you, they are not calling to collect money from you,” said Corporal Collin Flynn with the Gwinnett County Police Department. “People are not going to call you and say you have an arrest warrant, and then ask you to pay money to get rid of that warrant.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia recently announced a couple pleaded guilty to laundering over $500,000 on behalf of India-based phone scammers.
Police recommend looking up the specific agency first then calling it to verify the caller's identity. If think you’ve been scammed, they say you should immediately cancel any account or card numbers you may have provided. Click here for more safety tips: https://t.co/T3C3njzjl7 pic.twitter.com/MmkSspuCiq
— Valencia E. Jones (@vjreports3) October 14, 2020
Police recommend calling the specific agency first. “Look for their phone number on the Internet, call them and confirm that they are an actual agent of that agency,” Flynn said.
If think you’ve been scammed, police say you should immediately cancel any account or card numbers you may have provided. They say never give any of that information over the phone.
“I am a strong woman of faith, and I really feel that God will have vengeance one day,” said Owens.
She says she chooses to forgive and wants to spread the word to keep others from falling victim or judging those who do. “Comfort that person and help them walk through it. Don’t be critical or judgmental,” she said.
For more information on how to protect yourself from scams, click here.