(Waterloo, Iowa) A recent scam attempt against a Waterloo resident was thwarted, but not until the individual endured the worst of phone scammer techniques. The caller told the potential victim that $1 million of sweepstakes winnings would be delivered to him as soon as he wired $300 for the "fees and taxes." The gentleman refused to send the funds. Over the next two days the scammer went on to badger the man by continuing to call repeatedly, sometimes as often as every five minutes.
Deb Yankey, SMP Coordinator for the Consumer Protection Division of Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging stated, "Retired individuals are often targeted by scammers because it is believed they have an available nest egg of savings. Older people also don't wish to be rude by hanging up immediately on callers. This gentleman was fortunate to have the alert staff of Friendship Village assisting him to fend off the scammer. Older people living alone, feeling lonely and concerned about making ends meet may listen to a caller who promises a large prize for a small price."
Amber Jedlicka, Director of Landmark Commons with Friendship Village, said, "Waterloo Police were helpful, making two visits to the man's home and suggesting we notify the Iowa Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division."
Yankey said, "The Friendship Village staff was very proactive in warning all staff and residents of their properties about this attempted scam. Since this individual was alert and informed and did not give out personal information or send money to the scammer, no crime was committed for a criminal investigation to take place. We encourage individuals to notify authorities in these instances so they can be informed these scam attempts are happening in the community."
Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging and the Iowa Attorney General's office reminds everyone to avoid sweepstakes or lottery scams that are conducted by phone, postal mail or internet. These types of scams usually involve a request to pay something in advance in order to collect the prize; this is often accompanied by a check sent to the victim with instructions to cash it and wire that money as a payment. This check is counterfeit and if your bank cashes it for you, they'll later require you to repay the funds. Legitimate prizes do not require advance payment of any kind.
Tips about avoiding scams and assistance for scam victims are available from the Iowa Attorney General Consumer Protection Division at 1-888-777-4590 or www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org. Older citizens may also contact the Iowa SMP Program at Hawkeye Valley Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-423-2449.
HVAAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation serving older persons in Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Grundy, Hardin, Marshall, Poweshiek and Tama counties. HVAAA coordinates services for people ages 60 and older and their caregivers to maintain the independence they desire. Some of the services provided by HVAAA include home delivered meals, caregiver support and respite services, case management services, consumer protection, congregate meals, public information and education, Senior Helpline, and advocacy.