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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Central Virginia
Area Seniors Targets of Scams
November 06, 2012

We have recently received several calls of concern on our Senior Fraud Hotline. From Craigslist.org scams to phony IRS calls, consumers need to stay on alert when contacted by someone you don’t know personally. Please share this information with your family and friends, particularly seniors. If you or your senior loved ones receive questionable phone calls or correspondence, please notify our Senior Fraud team at 804-780-2222.

A local consumer received a call claiming to be from the IRS. He returned the call to 570-241-9648 (an established scam group who employ several different scripts when approaching people) and spoke to someone claiming to be an IRS representative. The rep advised the consumer he was busy with another client and said someone else would call him back. When the consumer received the callback, the IRS phone number, 800-829-1040, showed up on his caller ID. The scammer claimed the consumer was due a refund from his 2008/2009 taxes in the amount of $2,187. The consumer was asked for the last four digits of his social security number; he was then told he needed to send $187 first. The consumer asked why it couldn’t be deducted from the $2,187 and was told it had to be paid to another agency and could not be deducted from his refund. Call spoofing – This is when a person or business calls, and their phone number is disguised on the caller ID. Sometimes, it appears as “UNKNOWN”. Other times, it may appear as a different phone number, even one in your calling area. Call spoofing may be used to avoid having a call traced. Con artists may go so far as to use Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology, which is basically placing a phone call over the internet. Skype and other types of calls can also disguise a telephone number.

  • We received a call from a senior living community employee. She discovered a resident using the facility’s shared computer to communicate with an individual claiming to be in the Army serving in Afghanistan. A series of romantic communications had been ongoing and the resident was asked to send an email to the Army requesting leave for the soldier. The resident then received a return email claiming to be from a colonel in charge of the transit process and advising the consumer to wire $1,650. She was told the money would be returned once the soldier was out of the war zone.

  • A consumer has been overwhelmed with letters/requests from psychics. This consumer admitted responding to one letter and sending in $10 several months ago. Our Senior Fraud team explained that even if you respond just one time to a request, this potentially results in a major increase in mailings.

  • We assisted a senior who had been scammed on Craigslist.org. His wife had passed away leaving the consumer vulnerable due to financial and emotional issues. The consumer posted his wife’s scooter on Craig’s List and received an email from a potential buyer who claimed to be deaf. The “buyer” advised the consumer he would be sending a check for $3100, which was more than the cost of the scooter, and instructed him to deposit the check and wire $1500 to a moving company. The “moving company” was to pick up the chair and deliver it to the buyer out of state. When the consumer deposited the check, his bank granted him access to the money the next day. He wired the $1500 as instructed and nine days later the check was returned as a fake. The consumer’s bank account was overdrawn $2000.