Like many of you, when I begin my day at work I have a routine that gets me organized and jump starts my day. If nothing is pressing and no emergencies in the jail or in the county, I grab a cup of coffee and check my overnight telephone messages. A couple of weeks ago when I checked my messages I noted that of the 8 callers leaving messages, 6 were reporting some type of scam activity that was going on in our community. With the snow falling and the temperature hovering around 10 degrees Fahrenheit I was thinking to myself that years ago the scam calls didn’t begin until early Spring and usually ended just after the county fair. Not any more I thought. With all the direct postal mailings, the creation of the internet and everyone walking around with their own personal telephone in their pocket scamming for money is now a year-long endeavor.
On this particular morning the scams being reported included a variety that I was all too familiar with. The “you’ve won a prize!” scam was the first scam reported. This one promises you a large sum of money if you would only forward the scammer a money gram that pays for the taxes and in return they will send you the money free of charge. The next scam reported promised free medical equipment if you would forward your Medicare information. Then there is the relatively recent tried and true, “grandmother scam” that has gained in popularity for the last 5 years or so. In this one, the caller says your grandchild is in trouble and needs money wired to them and the caller will get them the money as soon as you send it to them. If they’re really good, they know your grandkids name and address. The next three reported were similar scams with a slight variation to the first three reported.
So, before I began to return the calls I’m thinking what’s going on with all the calls? I sure hope they’re not calling me as victims. I am happy to report that they were not calling me as victims. When I talked to each of the 6 they all said they did not fall for the false sales pitch but they were concerned about others in our community-they wanted me to alert everyone about the dishonesty they encountered.
Thanks in part to WRCO radio and the Richland Observer who take the time and make the commitment to do stories and alerts about the various scams we receive, I am confident that our citizens are much more aware of what is going on with scammers and thus are better able to protect themselves. The civic minded individuals who call me with scam alerts expressing their desire for me to warn others in the community also shows how far we have come as a community. I see a sincerity and concern for others that is not always present in other areas of our country or state.
Not everyone is so informed or immune from scammers and “phone predators”. Two months ago I received a long distance call from my mother who lives in Green Bay. She is now 82. She tells me she just received a call from my youngest son who in trouble in another state and he needs her to help him. He needs money and he wants her to send him money. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! I said, “Mom, it’s a “scam” he’s okay-he doesn’t need money, he is just fine.” She then asked me, “Are you sure?” I said, “Yes, I’m sure.” The caller was so convincing that he had fooled my own mother. Fortunately she had called me right away asking about my son before she had sent any money. Even after she questioned me, I had to promise her that I would have my son call her to verify that he is okay. That’s how convincing her scam caller was.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to just hanging up the phone when you first realize you are receiving these types of calls. That simple action alone will put you in the best position to avoid being a victim! It is also very important for us to be vigilant of or senior population. Our elderly population is a major target for all scammers. I have talked to my mother about scams in the past however she forgets things and when someone convincing called her and told her a family member was in trouble she wanted to help. That is what the scammer was banking on, her need to help. What he didn’t count on was her phone call to me first!
So, please don’t let your guard down, stay alert, protect your neighbors and family members of all ages and communicate the scams you become aware of to others so that they can also fight this “age old problem” that is not going away soon. We need to do everything we can to protect ourselves from these scamming predators.
Please feel free to report any scamming activity to my office at 647-2016.