'Tis the season to beware of scammers

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Posted: Monday, December 16, 2013 6:14 pm | Updated: 6:23 pm, Mon Dec 16, 2013.

SARASOTA, Fla.- With less than 10 days until Christmas, many are in the giving mood and some are looking to take advantage of that.

The holidays are hectic. Between traveling, holiday parties, and last minute shopping, it is easy to get distracted and not fully look into what you are paying for or giving to.

“Given that this is the holiday season, we feel that people need to be extremely alert to the fact that there are intelligent individuals out there that are going to be inclined to try and take advantage of you,” says Sgt. Neil Scully, with Sarasota County Sheriff's office.

Scams come in all different forms, and the elderly population tends to fall victim to deceiving and convincing emails and phone calls.

“They make it sound like you are going to, the next day, receive some of this money back,” says Gwen Calloway, a scam victim.

Calloway fell victim to nearly a dozen scams via email, and says she lost $70,000 in total.

“They probably put my name out there. They discovered that, 'isn't this wonderful? They are going to send me this, oh, ill send them this, and they'll send me my money',” says Calloway.

The Sarasota County Sheriff's office says, beware of charity scams. They are at an all time high during the holidays.

“A variety of different tell-tale signs would be; that they require that you do something immediately or that they can't provide you paperwork or receipts to go along with the contribution that you've made,” says Sgt. Scully.

You can verify charities by using resources such as CharityWatch.org or the Better Business Bureau's website.

But there are also gift card scams, and Audrey Guenther says she already takes caution by examining the card before purchasing.

“I take it from the back. I don't take it from the front,” says Guenther.

AARP says scammers will write down gift card serial numbers, wait a few days, then call the gift card phone number to find out if it has been activated. If it has, they start shopping with your card number. AARP urges you to carefully examine the card for signs of tampering before purchasing.

The Sarasota County sheriff's office says, they are unaware of how many people have fallen victim to scams because victims have not reported the situation. If you have been the victim of a scam, Law enforcement wants to hear from you.

AARP has a “Fraud Watch Network” that you can subscribe to where they will email you newsletters detailing new scams and tips on what to look for and how to avoid fraud.

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