Beware of scams, schemes

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By Marvin Duff

Elkader Police Chief


Spring, the season of growth and renewal, has come again to Iowa.  However, for those who take advantage of others using the Internet, mail and phone, it’s always open season.  Over the next few weeks I’ll share typical scams reported to the Police Department and ways to avoid being victimized.

The “grandma scam”  involves a phone call from someone posing as a grandchild, nephew, or other.  After establishing their identity by using  information extracted from the intended victim, the caller will usually have a story about being jailed or hospitalized in a foreign country.  In order to be released, a cash payment is required and the target is told to wire money at once.

Especially near tax season, callers will try to extract personal information by pretending to be IRS representatives needing asking for Social Security numbers and other identifiers needed to “verify” tax returns.  A variation is a threatening call demanding money to satisfy a tax bill.  If the target doesn’t comply, they are told they will be charged with a crime or sued for the funds.

Everyone loves a bargain and some of the best “too good to be true” bargains are found on the Internet.  A common scheme offers a vehicle, tractor, boat or some other item at a price well below its market value.  The “seller”  has to take a loss on the sale because they are a military member soon to be transferred, or for some other reason need to quickly dispose of the property.  Sometimes arrangements are made for “delivery” to the purchaser, which always requires more money to cover the cost of shipping.  A delivery date is set days or weeks in the future, long after the scammer has spent the victim’s cash.

Editor’s note: Police Chief Duff will share information on addition scams in upcoming articles. If you’ve been the target of a scam or have heard about one, you can reach Chief Duff at 563-245-3110.


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