11-06-09 Citizen Alert - Officers Seeing More Citizens Fall Victim to Financial Scams
Boise, Nov. 6, 2009 - Boise Police Financial Crimes Detectives are seeing an increase in reports of citizens falling victim to phone and internet scams. In one recent case, a Boise man reported a loss of more than $10,000 to a secret shopper scam.
Detectives say the scams are not new; citizens are asked to send money to receive more money, or asked to cash checks, keep a percentage, and mail off the rest. However, citizens find that checks are fraudulent or accounts are frozen and the citizen is out the money.
"These scams often target people who can least afford it, like seniors," said Boise Police Detective Monet Iverson. "Whether it's mystery shoppers, lotteries or sweepstakes, we are seeing more people losing money, and when it's gone, it's gone."
Boise Police often work with the FBI or US Postal Inspectors on similar cases. However, because checks are often sent outside the US or accounts are routed from state to state, the money is often untraceable.
"The best way to fight this crime is to prevent it with education." said Det. Iverson.
"Anytime you're asked to wire money based on an excess payment through a check, that's a massive red flag," said Dale Dixon, Executive Director of the Boise area Better Business Bureau.
"Someone sending you money just to have you send it back, that's a big clue it's a scam," said Dixon.
Types of Fraud Cases BPD is Seeing in Boise:
* Citizens are being contacted via phone or e-mail (senior citizens are most often contacted by phone).
* Citizens are told they won a sweepstakes or a lottery, but must send money to pay fees in order for the "winnings" to be sent to them. These sweepstakes and lotteries are often outside the US.
* Citizens may be sent checks for several thousand dollars, told to keep a certain percentage of the money and mail the rest to another account. The citizen deposits the check and mails the cash before the bank discovers the check is fraudulent.
Boise Police urge anyone who is contacted by phone or internet with a proposal matching any of the above, to ignore the call or email.
Boise Police also urge family and caretakers of senior citizens to advise and educate them about these scams.
Boise Police appreciates the cooperation of the Boise Better Business Bureau in helping educate and prevent Boise area citizens from falling victim to financial schemes and scams.