Scam claims Beaufort County residents face arrest or fee

rlurye@islandpacket.comOctober 30, 2013 

STAFF ILLUSTRATION

A man impersonating a Beaufort County sheriff's deputy told several Hilton Head Island residents they had missed jury duty and must pay $2,000 or go to jail.

The Sheriff's Office received three reports of the scam Tuesday, all from Sea Pines residents. In one of the incidents, a suspect who identified himself as Maj. Thomas Wilson called a 71-year-old man and told him a warrant had been issued for his arrest, according to a report.

The suspect instructed the man to buy two $1,000 money cards, or prepaid debit cards, from Walmart and provide him with the card numbers, which the victim did, Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Sgt. Robin McIntosh said. When the caller asked for an additional $2,000, the resident became suspicious and reported the incident.

There is no way to recover his money, McIntosh said.

Another victim, a 59-year-old woman, tried to purchase the money cards but could not complete the transaction, a report said.

The third victim, a 76-year-old man, told deputies the suspect mispronounced "Beaufort" and became angry when the resident said he had not received notice of jury duty.

Suspecting he was being scammed, the resident told "Maj. Wilson" to come arrest him. When the suspect never showed, the victim called the Sheriff's Office.

Similar jury duty scams surfaced in Beaufort County in August, according to a Sheriff's Office news release. Deputies will never solicit financial information over the phone, the release said.

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