Police warning about variety of scams that target elderly

From staff reports

State police barracks in Troop E, which includes Franklin, are reporting a variety of scams targeting elderly people.

According to a Troop E news release, victims are being scammed out of large amounts of money. People are being urged to not provide personal information, such as Social Security or bank account numbers, to unknown people over the phone or internet.

Many phone scams use threats to intimidate and bully a victim into paying. They could even threaten to arrest a victim.

Scammers often alter caller ID to make it look like a legitimate and/or local agency is calling.

Callers could use professional titles and fake badge numbers to appear legitimate. They also might use the victim’s name, address and other personal information to make the call sound official.

They also will use “spoofing,” which is when a caller falsifies information transmitted to caller ID display. Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears a call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency.

If someone answers, they use scam scripts in an attempt to steal money or personal information, which can be used in fraudulent activity.

Some scammers use emails that contain a fake document with a phone number or an email address for a reply. They often use official letterhead in emails or regular mail.

Gift cards

Police are seeing an increasing number of incidents in which gift cards are being used to steal money. Anyone who demands payment by gift card is a scammer.

Someone could claim to be from the Internal Revenue Service, collecting back taxes or fines.

The caller might say they are from tech support, asking for money to fix a computer.

The caller might say they are a family member with an emergency and needs money right now.

Scammers will sometimes ask for money to be wired to them. However, they are increasingly telling victims to put money on a gift card.

The caller could demand the gift card number and PIN on the back of the card, which allows them to immediately access the money loaded onto the card.

Here are some other examples of gift card scams:

– Callers pretend to be from a utility company, telling the victim to pay the bill by gift card or they’ll cut off power or water.

– Sellers on online auction sites, who ask for gift cards to “buy” big items like cars, motorcycles, boats, RVs, tractors and electronics.

– Someone posing as a service member to receive sympathy, saying they must sell something quickly before deployment and need the victim to pay by gift card.

– Callers who tell the victim they have won a prize for a sweepstakes but first must use a gift card to pay fees or other charges.

– Someone buying something from a victim, probably online, who sends a check for more than the purchase price – and asks to give them the difference on a gift card. (That check will turn out to be fake.)

Police advise anyone who suspects a scam not to give out personal information, hang up the phone and immediately contact law enforcement.

Police are also encouraging everyone to look out for their elderly family members.