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

By Lois E Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Keeping an eye out for scams


August 30, 2018

Frauds and Scams was the title of a presentation given by Deputy John Parenteau of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department at the August 1 Carlton County TRIAD meeting.

“These are the most common frauds and scams that affect aging Americans,” said Parenteau. “People say that ‘This won’t happen to me’ but they do fall for it. If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.”

The Grandparent Scam is when a supposed grandchild calls a grandparent and needs money.

“They want you to go to Wal-Mart or someplace and get a gift card or wire money,” said Parenteau. “The money is needed now.”

Parenteau told the group that, if a call is received like that, grandparents have to be suspicious. “Skelton” or “watermelon” were examples of safe words that would be used in phone conversations between the two parties so the grandparents know that it is actually their grandchild.

The IRS Scam has been popular, said Parenteau.

“People don’t want to mess with the IRS,” he added. “If you don’t answer, they leave a message to call them back. It is urgent. They also will say that the sheriff will arrest you. They ask for an amount of money to be sent immediately. You’d be surprised at how many people call them back.”

Parenteau asked Sheriff Kelly Lake, who was present at the meeting, if she or her deputies goes out and arrests people for overdue taxes.

Sheriff Lake said that they do not arrest people for that reason.

“At tax time, in April or May, we get a lot of people calling and telling us that they have gotten that call,” she said.

“If you get that call, hang up and call your local law enforcement office,” advised Parenteau.

Romance Scams target people that are over 40 and are lonely.

“The scammer convinces the person that they are in love and that they are the love of a lifetime. After a relationship is built, the scammer convinces the victim to send them money to help with a problem. Sometimes they say that they are in the military. There are friend requests on Facebook that show him in uniform or some other honorable profession.”

Parenteau said that a family member, who had lost her husband, had been lonely and had fallen into a Romance Scam. She still believed the scammer even after Parenteau showed her evidence that he was not real.

“Never transfer or wire money,” he said. “Be on your guard and be honest with yourself. Stay in touch with your family. Contact a professional, such as your bank or the sheriff. Don’t feel ashamed.”

The Lottery Scam is where a person is told to keep the fact that they won the lottery a secret. The person is asked to contact the Claims Agent and he or she needs to send money to unlock something.

“They will even send you a check that looks real,” said Parenteau.

The Motor Vehicle Scam is where you are asked to renew the warranties on your vehicle, said Parenteau.

“Those are scams,” he added. “People call us all the time about these.”

When people list an item for sale on Craig’s List, the buyer offers to purchase the item sight unseen, Parenteau explained.

“The buyer sends you a check for more than the asking price but does not come and look at the item,” Parenteau added. “The buyer asks you to send the difference back or asks you to pay a third party. The check is bogus. You are out whatever you send.”

He added that Craig’s List is a legitimate site but, if a person sells or buys anything, it is best to meet in a parking lot in a public place, if possible.

The Tech Support Scam is where a caller asks to check your computer.

“They want the product code,” said Parenteau. “When you enter it, it says that it is not working. You are asked to call a certain number. A voice with an East Indian accent answers and tells you that you have a virus. They claim to be computer technicians from Microsoft or Apple. They ask you to give them remote access to your computer. They diagnose a non-existent problem and then fix it for $300.

“If you get this, contact a professional. Do not give control of your computer to anyone. Don’t give them credit card numbers and don’t give them money.”

The Contractor Scam is where you give a contractor money down on a project, with the remainder to be paid when the project is done. Paving a driveway is an example of a project. The contractor either disappears or it does a substandard job.

There is also a Medicare Scam. Medicare is sending out new cards but there is no cost to the recipient, Parenteau explained. Scammers have been calling and telling people that they need to pay to get the new card. They ask for a credit card or bank account number to pay for the card.

Can you hear me? Is another scam. The person is called and asked that question.

“If that person answers “Yes”, they will bill you,” said Parenteau. “Don’t say ‘yes.’ Answer with something else, like ‘I can hear you.’”

The Credit Card Scam is where the person will be called and asked for the number on the back of the credit card. They will say that there is something wrong with the card, said Parenteau.

“Just hang up,” he added. “That is a scam.”

There are Charity Scams, where the caller asks the person to give money to a law enforcement association. Parenteau advised donors to give funds directly to the law enforcement agency, if they wish to donate.

Parenteau advised people to also be leery of deals on prescriptions that are advertised on the Internet.


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