A new type of loan scam targets sailors on the First Coast. l Rodion Kutsaiev, Unsplash.A new type of loan scam targets sailors on the First Coast. l Rodion Kutsaiev, Unsplash.
A new type of loan scam targets sailors on the First Coast. l Rodion Kutsaiev, Unsplash.

Loan scam targets sailors along the First Coast

Published on June 11, 2024 at 5:22 pm

Investigators with the U.S. Navy are warning sailors about a loan scam that targets sailors who use military-friendly financial institutions.

The scam is targeting sailors at Naval Station Mayport, Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Southeast Georgia, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service said in a news release Tuesday.

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Naval investigators said scammers approach victims in public areas, either on foot or in a vehicle, and ask where the closest financial institution is or where the victim banks.

If the victim says yes to any of the scammer’s questions, the scammer will then ask to use their phone to try to retrieve a lost debit card or unlock a bank account from a banking app where the victim has an account.

Investigators said the scammers often offer the victim money to give up their phone.

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Janice Reitzell, special agent with NCIS at Mayport, said the scammers, once they have the phone, typically apply for a $5,000 loan from the victim’s financial institution and transfer the money through apps like CashApp or Zelle before giving the phone back to the victim.

She said this type of scam was first reported in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia in early April and has increased over the last few months.

“It’s been happening for several months starting in our Norfolk, Hampton Roads area [in southeast Virginia], and it’s working its way south,” Reitzell said.

About 20 sailors at the three local naval bases have fallen victim to the scam with the average financial loss coming to $5,000, she said.

Most financial institutions don’t reimburse victims for scams like these since the victim willingly handed over their phone and provided information to scammers.

If someone asks to use your phone or banking app, just tell them no and get away from them as soon as possible, Reitzell advised.

If you feel threatened, call police immediately.

People who have fallen victim to the scam should file a police report, contact the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and their command, then notify their bank.


author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Steven Ponson has six years of experience covering news in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Prior to arriving on the First Coast, Steven also worked in radio in Orlando. He attended the University of Central Florida where he earned a degree in radio and television. Steven has been a reporter, producer, anchor and board operator. Outside of work, Steven loves to watch sports, cook delicious cajun food (as any good Louisiana native does) and spend time outdoors.
author image Reporter, WJCT News 89.9 Steven Ponson has six years of experience covering news in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida. Prior to arriving on the First Coast, Steven also worked in radio in Orlando. He attended the University of Central Florida where he earned a degree in radio and television. Steven has been a reporter, producer, anchor and board operator. Outside of work, Steven loves to watch sports, cook delicious cajun food (as any good Louisiana native does) and spend time outdoors.

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