The Charles County Sheriff's Office is warning citizens to beware of fraud schemes recently seen in the area.
A 44-year-old Clinton woman became a victim of a scam last month outside a store in the 2900 block of Festival Way in Waldorf. On Dec. 12 at about 2 p.m., a woman approached the victim with a wallet she said she found in front of the store. They opened it and found it contained some type of foreign currency. A second woman - the scammer's accomplice - approached the first scammer and the victim and began discussing the wallet. One of the scammers decided to take the money to a friend at another nearby store who would know how to proceed, while the victim and the other woman remained outside. She returned with advice from her friend, who said each of the three women should go to their respective banks and withdraw money that would be used to convert the foreign currency. By doing so, all three women would benefit by about three times the amount they originally contributed. The victim withdrew $6,000 from her bank and provided it to the other women, who never returned with her $18,000 share. She reported the incident to the Sheriff's Office Waldorf District Station about 5:40 p.m. the same day.
In other versions of this scam that have been reported elsewhere, the scammers have posed as missionaries and people with foreign dilemmas but in most cases, they lurk about retail establishments.
Detectives with the Financial Services Section are investigating this incident. Detectives would also like to remind citizens about other scams that have been reported outside of Charles County.
In some scams, people will receive a message by letter, e-mail or telephone announcing they have won a prize that can be collected upon the payment of taxes or other fees. Another involves print and online classified sales ads. A buyer contacts the seller and requests to send an amount greater than the asking price for the item. The seller is supposed to return the balance to the buyer in the form of a money order or cash. The seller will find the check or money order the buy sent is counterfeit, but usually not before they have sent the difference back to the buyer. Other scams have occurred when victims have made an acquaintance on the Internet and the acquaintance asks the victim to cash a check or other false document and send him or her the proceeds, allowing the victim to keep a portion of the money for their troubles.
The Sheriff's Office would like to caution citizens to beware of these scams. In most cases, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Financial crimes detectives are also asking anyone who believes they have become a victim of this scam or who has information about the scams occurring to call them at 301-609-6496.
Crime Solvers offers rewards of up to $1,000 for information about a crime in Charles County that leads to an arrest or indictment. Anyone with information about a crime may provide their tip anonymously by calling Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS.