Deputies warn of scam tricking the elderly into smuggling drugs

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FREDERICK COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Deputies are issuing a warning about an extremely dangerous scam in which elderly people are unwittingly being recruited into the drug trade.

According to the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, older adults are being contacted and offered lavish overseas trips with all expenses paid.

But the trips are being provided by transnational criminal organizations.

At some point on the trip, the senior is asked to deliver a "present or a "gift" to someone in another country. It turns out that the gift contains drugs and the person is being used as a tool to smuggle them internationally.

The ruse "entices victims with a promise of an inheritance or business opportunity," according to the sheriff's office.

It's generally on the final leg of the trip that they're asked to take a seemingly harmless item along for a business contact with an "attorney" or "business partner" at the next location.

But when they arrive, the item is found to contain drugs and the senior citizen may be detained and arrested by local authorities.

It's been found to happen with everything from chocolates, picture frames, tea and markers to canned goods, shampoo bottles, soap and wooden hangers.