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Scam & Fraud News

Senior citizens: Beware of scammers

By Brett Milam - Editor, Claremont Sun - 18-11-15
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Senior citizens: Beware of scammers
Senior citizens: Beware of scammers

Even though falling for the hyperbolic, outlandish Nigerian prince email seems like a punchline to some, scams are no joke.

Pat, a Clermont County woman, was called by an individual in New Jersey pretending to be her grandson. To make it even more convincing, he somehow had the actual name of the grandson.

“I was very, very upset when the call came,” she said.

The scammer concocted a fantastical tale: he was in a car crash in New Jersey and somehow ended up arrested and end in jail. He needed Pat to send him $3,000 to bail him out of jail.

“I said, ‘You don’t sound like you,’” Pat responded to the man.

But he was ready with an explanation: stemming from the car wreck, he had suffered a broken nose and his lips were stiched, hence the difference in the voice.

Then another man came on the phone to try to add credibility to the scam, pretending to be the other man’s attorney.

Pat said it was very believable and then her husband got on the line, realized it was fake and ended the call and fortunately, the scam.

“How did they get that information?” Pat said, referring to not just the grandson’s name but her name and number.

She was upset and in tears over it and it’s an incident that’s bothered her for a week, she told The Sun.

Pat told her story to The Sun in hopes that such scams don’t happen to anyone else or go further than the one that happened to her.

Seniors are thought to be ample prey for scammers because it’s thought they have more savings compared to other adults. Additionally, they are a low-risk crime since most don’t report the scam.

If you have been the victim of fraud or an attempted fraud, you can call local law enforcement or go through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/about-AG/contact/report-a-scam or call 1-800-282-0515. If you wish, you can even remain anonymous.

An additional resource is the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-701-9595 or www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

Captain Greg Moran, who oversees the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office’s Investigations Unit, said it’s all about awareness.

“Sometimes you have to really spot the imposters. They could be someone that calls you, sends you something in the mail, online stuff, email, that type of thing. They may say they’re from the IRS or a government agency or maybe even a family member. They have to be able to identify those people and if they don’t trust it, then don’t believe the caller,” he said. “If they’re trying to get you to pay right now, that’s a scam.”

Be skeptical of free trial offers, hang up on robocalls and never give out personal banking information over the phone to an unverified individual or organization, Moran said.

Once that money gets wired, it’s almost impossible to get it back.

Also, those who have been scammed should report it to the sheriff’s office or whichever municipality that they reside in. Even if there was no money lost, like in the case of Pat, individuals should report anyway, Moran said. In so doing, they at least give law enforcement information about scammers and where they are operating and to what extent.

If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is, Moran said.

He advises residents to be vigilant and slow down.

“You can always make a donation to something if you think it’s legitimate, but if you don’t, you can always research before you make that donation,” he said.

In fact, in another issue of telephone fraud, according to an Oct. 9 blog post by the Clermont Senior Services (CSS), a private, non-profit that serves older adults in the area, phone scams pretending to be the organization have been happening as of late.

“Several people have called us to report receiving calls that appear to have come from our agency. Sometimes the caller ID number that shows on their phone, when calling it back, rings into our phone system,” Matthew Newberry, network administrator, said.

Senior Services recommends not trusting caller ID since scammers can manipulate it. Additionally, they say to call 513-724-1255, the public number of the organization, for help or questions.

Cindy Gramke, the executive director and CEO of CSS, told The Sun, even the issue of the scammer knowing a relative’s name could be a case of confusion.

“Sometimes, the person believes the caller knew the individual’s name, but they say – ‘Grandma, hi, I need your help.’ And, Grandma answers, ‘Scott?’ [using the grandchild’s name],” she said.

Gramke’s own sister-in-law was scammed out of $9,000 because of a scam.

“And, these scams transcend all socio-economic boundaries,” Gramke said. “The callers are very convincing and very slick.”

Another scam trick is the lottery scam, she said. Callers will call a senior claiming they’ve won the lottery.

“In the one case, the caller stated that he would send her a check for the anticipated $22,000 and she was to go ahead and put that check in the bank as the good faith money,” Gramke said. “He then asked her to take $7,000 in cash and put it between the pages of magazine and send it to them in Canada. Then, the next day, do the same with another $8,000 and the remaining $7,000 on the third day. Since the source is in Canada, the check has to go back to Canada, be declared insufficient funds and back to the individual’s bank in the U.S., which usually takes until the fourth or fifth day when their bank informs them that they have insufficient funds to cover the cash withdrawals.”

Gramke said you would think the scam of putting cash between magazine pages would be a heads up that it is, in fact, a scam, but “people want to believe they’ve won so badly.”

Another scam is the fake contractor, wherein, the contractor promises work to be done, insists on being paid in advance and then takes off without a trace and no work (or faulty work) being performed.

CSS actually just did their annual Fraud Forum, with representatives from from the Attorney General’s office, Department of Commerce, Social Security, local law enforcement, ProSeniors and others talking about all of the current scams and the appropriate means of reporting for them.

“The ones that are local can and should be called into the police department and alerts can go out to the community alerting people of the ‘latest and greatest’ scams,” Gramke said. “They are countless, and we hear about new ones all the time.”

For more info, visit the FTC’s site at https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts. Officials advise residens to never give money over the phone

Tags: scam, scammers, senior citizens,

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