Police: Scams targeting seniors have hit the area

Published: Dec. 21, 2016 at 4:07 PM CST
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The Iowa City Police Department reports receiving numerous calls regarding scams aimed at the elderly, especially those in nursing homes.

Police said current scams in the area include:

  • Grandchild in Distress - You receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild - they even wait to let you say the grandchild's name and continue to build on you thinking they are your grandchild, and stating they are in distress (in jail, stranded, etc.). The person on the other end of the phone gives a distressing story and asks you to wire money immediately to a location.
  • Bank Examiner Scam - You receive a call from a "bank examiner / employee" who needs you to withdraw funds to help catch a stealing employee.
  • Utility Company Scam - You receive a call claiming they are Mid-American Energy, your cable company or any other utilities you might use, claiming that if you don't immediately pay your outstanding bill they will shut off your utilities.
  • Lotto / Sweepstakes Scam - You receive a phone call, email or letter stating you have just won a foreign lottery. They ask for upfront payment of taxes to be wired before your winnings are deposited into your account.
  • Classifieds Scam - You place an item for sale or lease in the newspaper classifieds or on Craig's List, and receive a call from someone wanting to pay more than you have requested. The person tells you they are going to send you a check for double the amount and requests you send them back a portion, then keep the rest for your troubles.

Police said the suspects in many of the scams are out of state or in other countries, making the incidents very difficult to solve. Officers offer the following tips to help keep you and your finances safe;

  • Never rush into a financial decision. Always take the extra step to verify the request is legitimate prior to sending any money.
  • Never give out personal information over the phone. If your financial institution is calling you, they already have your information.
  • Report any suspicious phone calls or letters to the police.
  • Never pay a fee to collect a winning.
  • Say NO!
  • Ask for help!

Police said if it sounds too good to be true, it often is.

Watch the video above to see how an 80-year-old New York man lost $4,000 after receiving a call he believed was from his granddaughter who claimed she was in trouble with the law and needed help.