Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Scammers hit Moose Lake

 


A Moose Lake woman reported she had been the victim a scam at the meeting of the Carlton County TRIAD group on Wednesday, January 6.

“I got a call at 8:30 in the morning from my grandson,” she said. “He said he was in trouble and needed money. He sounded just like my grandson but he had a cold. He gave me the number of a public defender to call.

“I called the public defender and was told that my grandson had run a red light and been involved in an accident. He said I needed to send $4,000.”

The woman reported she didn’t have that kind of funds available and went to the credit union to ask for a loan.

“I wasn’t able to get a loan so I went to the bank,” she said.

That’s where she learned she had been a victim of a scam.

“I met with a staff member of the bank and he told me there were red flags all over that call,” she said. “He traced the number and found out it had come from Canada.”

She said her son-in-law came and they called her grandson. He was at home and had not been involved in an accident.

The woman said she had a soft spot for kids and wanted to help her grandson.

Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake said that’s how the scammers work, they play on the sympathies and emotions of grandparents. This is known as the "Grandparent Scam."

The woman said she was stunned the call turned out to be a scam. She said she cares for her disabled husband and is not able to be out in the community like she used to be. She said she felt vulnerable.

The woman added she reported the call to Moose Lake Police Chief Bryce Bogenholm and he suggested she attend the meeting. She said she was glad she did.

“Anytime you get a call that asks you to send money, the red flags go up,” said Chief Bogenholm.

He spoke about calls Moose Lake residents and business owners received recently where they were asked to pay overdue electric company charges or their power would be shut off. The victims were asked to go to the local dollar store and send a money transfer.

“I had one of the victims call one of the phone numbers that were given,” said Chief Bogenholm. “It was East Central Energy but we could only get a message, we couldn’t talk to a real person.

“We had gotten eight or 10 calls from people that had received those calls.”

Chief Bogenholm added the scams are listed on the Facebook pages of the Moose Lake Police Department, Carlton County Sheriff’s Office and the Cloquet Police Department.

Because the credit union staff did not know about the scam, Chief Bogenholm said he would contact the business about conducting a training.

Chief Bogenholm reported the officers and staff are enjoying the newly remodeled police department office and a new squad vehicle, a four-wheel drive Tahoe, has been ordered.

Once it arrives, the equipment will have to be installed in it, he added. The Charger will be stripped of equipment and sold.

A new piece of equipment, a WatchGuard camera and microphone, was purchased last year with grant funds, said Chief Bogenholm. It is recording all of the time. He said the officers also have to be aware the system is recording.

Chief Bogenholm reported a hotbed of meth activity is located in the Sturgeon Lake area and Moose Lake officers are often called for mutual aid.

“We get a couple of calls a week,” he said. “There are also burglaries out in the township and out in the country. We have helped the county with a couple of search warrants and made a couple of arrests.”

Sheriff Lake said there have been burglaries in Holyoke and Barnum, where a side-by-side and a tractor were stolen. Those have been recovered, she said.

She added some of the thieves were jailed but have been released.

“We do our part,” she said. “We can’t control what the court does. There is pressure on the court to reduce the jail population because the jail is overcrowded. But then those people go out and commit more crimes.”

Cloquet Police Chief Steve Stracek said car prowls continue in Cloquet.

“A lot of the times, it is because bags and items in the car are left out in the open,” he said. “One thief took a Walmart bag but it only contained two 20-cent candles.

“We’ve had a fair amount of guns taken in the last six months. There are devices to lock up the guns in a car.

“There also have been shoplifters. Some weekends we have six or eight of them. Some of them are serial shoplifters and go all over the area. They find out who is working and they take TVs, or maybe $700 or $800 in groceries. We saw a lot of it before the holidays.”

Sheriff Lake reported her office will be hiring an investigator from within the department. New people will have to be hired to fill the vacant deputy position and a vacant position on the jail staff.

“The Drug Court is having an effect,” she said. “Not many cases are ending up in the juvenile center in Duluth.”

The shortage of beds in the mental health treatment centers in the state continues, said Sheriff Lake.

“One person had to stay in a bed in the emergency room for five days before a bed opened up,” she said. “Some end up in jail. They don’t get the treatment they need there.

“The state sheriff’s association is working with the Department of Human Services on the problem.”

Sheriff Lake said Minnesota TRIAD is going to partner with the Minnesota Board on Aging in the Twin Cities to help TRIAD grow. Although five new TRIAD groups have been started in the state in the past year, she said that the partnership may produce growth of TRIADs statewide.

TRIAD is an organization sponsored by the sheriff’s office in participating counties for senior citizens, law enforcement and the community to work together.

The next meeting of Carlton County TRIAD will be held at the Emergency Response Center meeting room in Moose Lake on February 3, at 10 a.m. Everyone is welcome.

 

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