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Jessamine sheriff, Nicholasville police warn of telephone scams

March 30, 2011|By Mike Moore | mmoore@jessaminejournal.com

The Jessamine County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning Wednesday, March 30, about a telephone scam targeting the elderly.

On Tuesday, March 24, Sheriff Kevin Corman received a phone call from a Jessamine County woman who informed him of the possible scam.

“She said she’s received a call like this, and she wanted to see if it was legit because it sent up a red flag with her,” Deputy Larry Oliver said. “He (Corman) called the (Kentucky) Attorney General’s office, and they said they had received a lot of calls about this over the past several months.”

Oliver said that in the scam, the caller will claim to be the grandchild of a potential victim and need bail money to get out of jail.

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He said the caller would instruct the victim to send the money via Western Union because that company does not require identification from a person receiving less that $1,000.

Oliver said this type of scam is gaining more popularity.

“It’s big business, apparently,” he said. “They were wanting money wired to Canada. It seems like a lot of these things are originating in Canada, but I know they could be overseas as well.”

Oliver said the caller will play on the emotions of the elderly because many of them don’t want their grandchildren to spend time in jail.

He also said the phones being used are prepaid and are difficult if not impossible to track.
“(The) crimes are difficult to prosecute as they originate from different parts of the world and usually involve a prepaid cell phone, which makes tracking the number virtually impossible,” he said.

Oliver believes the elderly are being targeted because of possible diminished hearing ability.

“They’re really hitting the elderly folk whose hearing is not as good,” he said.

Oliver said the best approach to dealing with possible phone scams of this nature is to use common sense.

“The biggest thing is if they’re representing themselves as a grandchild, they (victim) need to call that person (grandchild) and see if they’re actually in jail,” he said.

Second scam bilks elderly woman

The Nicholasville Police Department has also dealt with financial scams targeting residents in recent weeks, Maj. John Branscum said. In the case of the NPD, one elderly woman fell victim of the scam and lost more than $3,000.

“We had an elderly lady who sent the money,” he said. “It was about a week and a half ago. She called and let us know that her bank had notified her that the check that she cashed was a scam check, and she told them that she’d already sent them money, and they said it’s gone and there was nothing they could do to track it because it’s already gone overseas.”

Branscum said the scam the NPD is warning about irks him even more because of whom the scammers are passing themselves off as.

“Ours was different than the one that they (JSO) were talking about, but they both are financial scams which involve people calling. They just use different tactics,” Branscum said. “The thing that ticked me is they did it on behalf of a federal law enforcement agency. They’re calling and saying that they’re representing the FBI or the Secret Service, or even the local police department is something they’ll use.”

Branscum said what works for the elderly might not work on younger targets, so the scammers are changing up their methods to cater to the age group.

Both Branscum and Oliver offer ways to prevent becoming a scam victim. Those ways include:

• If someone from the “jail” calls you, get the jail’s main number from the phone book or directory assistance and call it back to verify.

• Never blindly follow directions of people who call on the phone without first checking authenticity.

• If anyone calls from Canada or overseas, this should raise suspicion.

• If you feel you have been a victim of a scam, contact your local law enforcement agencies.

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