Scam targeting seniors spreads

Posted on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 9:34 am

A new scam popped up in Northumberland County in the past two weeks. Older people get a phone call and are told that someone has ordered a medical alert device for them and they need information to use in shipping it to them.

“The device is a legitimate device,” Sheriff C.A. Wilkins said Wednesday. It is designed to set off an alert when the person falls or otherwise can’t call for help. “But the call is to get bank information from the person.”

Wilkins said that often people will try to get off the phone politely, but that is a mistake. The callers “are very skilled,” Wilkins said. “Just flat out hang up.”

Wilkins said that his department had gotten a number of calls about the scam in recent days and, in fact, he himself had gotten three such calls.

“Northumberland has the oldest population in the state,” Wilkins noted, and that makes its residents a target for scams such as one that involves calls saying a child or grandchild is in trouble and needs money sent.

A new wrinkle in the scams is the callers requests to be paid using “green cards,” a sort of pre-paid debit card that is sold many places, Wilkins said. Sometimes the callers just want the information from the card and sometimes they want the card actually sent. The card is easier for the scammers to use, the sheriff observed.

Another scam that made its appearance in Northumberland over the weekend is an email purportedly from a friend who is in a foreign country and has had his or money stolen. It asks for an emergency transfer of money. A friend of this writer called Saturday about such an email purportedly from a mutual friend. That scam is not a new one and the caller was so advised. A few…

-To read the full story, pick up a copy of the December 4 issue of the Northumberland Echo, on stands now!

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