Phone scammers preying on elderly 9/16/2014

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Phone scammers preying on elderly

By John Howell

Telephone scams are targeting the elderly with increasing frequency, according to Batesville Police Department Detective Lt. George Williford.

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“I’ve had three (victims) this week call me,” Williford said Friday.

Usually callers tell victims they have won a lottery, won a new car or both. Then they ask their victim to send money to cover taxes or other fees, Williford said.

“If they are asking you to send the money for delivery fees, taxes and ask for you to pay by a Green Dot money card, don’t do it,” Williford said.

Williford said that one victim had sent over $4,000 in Green Dot money cards before contacting police. 

“Once that money’s gone, it’s gone,” he said, usually out of the country.

A scammer befriended another elderly victim, calling her often and taking advantage of the victim’s loneliness. The scammer began calling more and more frequently, soon winning enough trust to persuade the victim to go to her bank to withdraw a large sum of money for a Green Dot money card purchase. A bank security officer detected what was about to happen, intervened and contacted police, Williford said.

Even then, the victim would not be dissuaded that the scammer was actually her friend. A police officer sat with the victim in her home at the time of the delivery of an auto the victim had been promised. 

When the time had passed with no delivery, the scammer called again, to check on the Green Dot money card whose funds had not arrived in the scammer’s account. An officer answered instead of the victim and got a sound cursing for his trouble, Williford said.

Officers say that anytime someone calls saying that you have won something and want you to send any money it is a scam, especially if it’s a lottery that you have not entered.