BBB Says Triad Military Families Targeted By Scam Artists

10:47 PM, May 3, 2012   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- Imagine a loved-one overseas calls you saying, "I'm in trouble. Can you send me some money?"
Your first instinct would probably be to help, especially if that person is in the military.

But the Better Business Bureau is warning military families that there's a scam, now in the Triad, targeting them.

A Bureau representative says they are concerned these thieves may have infiltrated a military database to get personal information on the soldiers they're impersonating.

And for one military family in Greensboro, the scammers went straight for the heart.

"We're all emotional about our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and these people know how to take advantage of that," said Bill Mullins.

Mullins is an 82-year-old who has seen his share of scams.

"I'll make a swift transfer of U.S. $3.7 million accrued interest to your account," Mullins read from one of the hundreds of letters he's received over the last four years which all but scream SCAM!

"I think I'm on an international list of con-artists, and scam artists," he joked.

The former Better Business Bureau member says he and his wife didn't see this new scam coming and almost fell victim.

"We almost got suckered," Mullins said. "This very agreeable young man [called and] said, 'hey! Do you recognize my voice?' Buddy, buddy, I said, 'no I don't.' He says, 'It's Sean...Sean Mullins, your grandson."

The scam artist then told an elaborate story: he said he was Mullin's decorated soldier - the same one who is currently serving in Afghanistan.

Someone supposedly planted drugs in his luggage, and he needed $19,000 for bail.

"At first I felt for it," Mullins recalled, saying at the time, he was thinking about his grandson's 17 years in the military and what he'd been through.

"He's been wounded several times, blown up, shot, and what have you," he said.

But as the conversation progressed, Mullins soon put two and two together.

"Me and my wife got to talking and said that voice doesn't sound like his. Our grandson is very reluctant to talk on the telephone and this fella is glib," he said. "So, I knew it was bogus as a three dollar bill."

The Better Business Bureau says they've received close to 6 calls just this week from military families who almost fell for the scam.

"It's worrisome. You'd think that people that have military families, that would kind of be off-limits but it's no holds barred when it comes to scamming. If you've got money, they want it," he said.

Mullin's advice, "Please be wary. And especially you elderly folks like me."

If you get a call like that, contact other family members and ask if they've heard from your loved-one.

Mullins says that's how he found out the real Sean had just called his own parents and was nowhere near where the scammer said her was.

Also, try to get personal information out of the caller, like details about the last vacation you both took together.

The Better Business Bureau adds that, even if you're convinced it's your loved-one, don't just wire the money.

Send it as a check or to a bank account - that way, it's traceable.

WFMY News 2

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