Archived Story

Holiday scams target elderly

Published 4:38pm Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Police are cautioning Niles area residents, especially the elderly, to be aware of scams this holiday season.

Michigan State Police Trooper Rob Herbstreith said the Niles post recently received three complaints in one week from widowed seniors who were targeted by a similar scam. One of the three victims lost $3,000.

Michigan State Police Sgt. Claire Coulston said the criminals appear to be monitoring obituaries and feeding on the sorrow of the recently widowed. The scam artist tells the widow their late husband or wife won a monetary prize and the widow is entitled to it.. However, the widow is told he or she must pay taxes and handling fees for the monetary prize, which never comes.

“If it is too good to be true or there isn’t any record of submission to the prize, then it is probably a scam,” Coulston said

Herbstreith said scams pick up around the holidays.

He suggests combatting the scheme by asking questions, including the caller’s name, address, phone number and company name. Then verify the information through the internet and or the Better Business Bureau.

Also, people should not send money immediately, even if pressured to do so. Check with the bank and ascertain if it has heard of the prize or company. Do not give bank information to the caller. Talk to other family members for their assistance. Do not give personal information and, if you are feeling pressured, hang up.

Police are advising people to report these situations to a local law enforcement agency.

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