VACAVILLE (CBS SF) – Police in Vacaville issued a warning to seniors after they said an elderly man lost tens of thousands of dollars from scammers claiming to be from Social Security.
According to a statement on the department’s Facebook page, a scammer called the victim to say that his Social Security number was used in bank fraud and that a new number was needed. He also received images of documents with Social Security Administration letterhead.
Police said the victim, whom they only identify as “Mr. B” in their statement, was told that he needed to purchase so-called “Apple Security” cards, and provide the numbers over the phone. The scammers also told the victim not to talk about his case to anyone else and was threatened with arrest if he did not pay.
The victim, who spoke limited English, then purchased numerous Apple gift cards and provided the card numbers to the scammers. After telling them he was running out of money, the scammers also told him to sell his vehicle, which he did.
“Mr. B’s mental and physical health were also suffering from the stress and fear of arrest, and sadly, we estimate Mr. B lost about $40k over the course of a few days,” police said.
The department said they are investigating, but acknowledged that it may be difficult to develop leads to track down the money or suspects due to the vague contact and gift cards involved in the scam.
According to the Social Security Administration website, the agency will first contact a person by mail if there are issues and will only call if it is requested.
The agency said during phone calls Social Security Employees will never:
• Threaten you.
• Suspend your Social Security number.
• Demand immediate payment from you.
• Require payment by cash, gift card, pre-paid debit card, internet currency, or wire transfer.
• Ask for gift card numbers over the phone or to wire or mail cash.
Scam phone calls should be reported to the Social Security Administration’s Office of Inspector General by visiting https://oig.ssa.gov/scam.
Vacaville Police said anyone with information about the case is asked to contact community service officer Angela Stefenoni at 707-469-4838.