Scam Alert in Panama City Beach

Beware of Charity Scams
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 8:27 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - ‘Tis the season of giving, at least that’s how most people see it. While the holidays may bring out the generosity in some, it brings out greed in others.

“Unfortunately some people use the holidays to take advantage of innocent people. It happens everywhere and we are not immune to it,” Panama City Beach Police Chief J.R. Talamantez said.

A charity scam recently spotted in south Florida has reached Panama City Beach.

“Be aware that people will pull at your heartstrings to make a dime and it’s just tragic,” Talamantez said.

That’s exactly what the “Sofia Scam” is all about. Beach Fire Rescue " target="_blank">posted to Facebook Wednesday saying quote, “the scammers never stop, they are ruthless, and prey off of the good people.” Attached is a scam alert from the " target="_blank">Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, where you see two women holding posters requesting donations for a baby born with a heart condition.

“As of right now we have plenty of information coming in from the public that these people are here,” Talamantez said.

Fake charities aren’t just out on the streets, they’re also online. Multiple platforms raising money for the same specific reason should spark concern.

“Look at the keywords and do a search in your search engine and see if those things populate somewhere else,” Talamantez said. “Say they’re trying to raise $30,000 and you look at multiple platforms and see they’ve raised upwards of $300,000. That’s a clue they probably don’t need any more help.”

And if you do come across something like this, you should take it to the police.

“I’ll tell you there’s no worse criminal than the criminal that takes advantage of someone trying to help them. If they want to utilize the holidays they victimize somebody, we will make sure they spend their holidays in jail,” Talamantez said.

Officers said to be wary of phone scams too. Always verify who’s on the other side of that call before donating.

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