Scammers will go to great lengths to get your money.
Last week, we received a call regarding a local woman in her nineties who received a postcard in the mail stating she had won a prize sweepstakes. Red flag number one.
All she had to do was mail in $5.00 and her phone number to claim her prize. Red flag number two.
That’s when the phone calls began. Now she was told she needed to pay $8,000 in taxes so she could receive this unexpected windfall. Red flag number three.
So, this is where it gets scary. The scammers went as far as to call a taxi for this woman, to pick her up at the nursing home where she lives and drive her to Wal-Mart, so she could purchase an $8,000 money order. The cab responded to the nursing home to pick up the resident. The driver stated that someone claiming to be the woman’s son called to make arrangements for the ride. Fortunately, staff at the nursing home assured the driver that no one had called for a ride, and the driver left. This happened not once, but twice.
Here’s the deal: we’d love nothing more than to find every last one of these grotesque thieves and charge them with anything and everything we can think of. The reality of it is that the vast majority of these scams originate out of the country, and the numbers that they call from are nearly impossible to trace. Often, they will clone phone numbers, perhaps showing up on your caller ID as a local number, when in reality, the calls are coming from overseas. Some potential victims have even reported receiving calls from their own phone number.
With tax season upon us, these scams are bound to intensify, with threatening calls from people claiming to be with the IRS demanding payment or promising you’ll be arrested. THESE ARE LIES. The IRS will not call you and demand payment over the phone. The IRS will also not request that you pay them in gift cards. We all know this, but these predators use threats and intimidation to try to scare you into doing something against your better judgement. Don’t be fooled.
We know this is repetitive. We know you’ve likely heard it all before. But no matter how many times we share these warnings, people are still falling victim to these scams everyday. We simply can’t prevent it on our own. Please help us share this message. Think of three people you think could be vulnerable to scams like this, and talk to them today. Click this link for a printable flyer that you can share with friends and family. Hang it on their fridge or above their phone as a reminder to stop and think when they receive one of these calls. Not if, but when.
Be smart. Be safe. Be informed. #HangUp.