News 12 at First at Five / Friday, June 22, 2012
AIKEN, S.C. -- "That night when I came home, I couldn't get it off my mind, because I kept thinking about what could have happened," said Jean Simmons, who lives in Aiken.
Simmons can't forget her encounter on Tuesday afternoon.
"I unfastened my seat belt and opened the car door, and when I opened the car door, these hands reached in and started rubbing my head," she said.
Around 2:30 p.m., a simple trip to Publix turned into a frightening run-in.
The Aiken Department of Public Safety says she was face-to-face with flimflam scammer.
"I started to get out of the car, and she said, 'No! Don't get out of the car!' She said, 'Scoot over!' She said, 'I want to show you something,'" Simmons recalled.
"They got what many times they'll show you is a large sum of cash, and they come up with this crazy scheme of their lawyer needs their help, and they'll let you talk to these people, and they don't have a banking account, so let's put it in yours, and you give me half the money," said Cpt. David Turno with the Aiken Department of Public Safety.
Luckily, Simmons didn't bite, but Turno says a lot of times victims do.
"They fall for it way too often, and then they're embarrassed and don't want to notify law enforcement, so it's hard for us to keep up with where these crimes are occurring around town," Turno said.
He says scammers target senior citizens like Simmons. Investigators don't have much to go on when it comes to a description of the suspect. All they have is that she's a black female, in her mid-40s, driving a dark, possibly green, sedan.
"There's nothing free. If it's too good to be true, it is. People don't find large sums of money and then want to split it with you," Turno said.
It's advice Simmons now lives by.
"We just have to be alert, and before you even get out of your car, look at your surroundings," she said.
The scammer approached another shopper at Roses on Richland Avenue, too. She approached the victims with a brown pouch with two thick rolls of cash.
Public safety doesn't have any suspects for now, but if you have any information, call Crimestoppers of the Midlands at 888-CRIME-SC. There's a reward of up to $1,000, and it's money that doesn't come with a catch.