Scams prey on senior citizens

Published 10:04 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2012

DOWAGIAC — Tamara, 68, seldom signs up for things online, but, last week after registering with Publishers Clearing House, she began receiving calls that “I won a check.”
“That’s when the calls started. Within a 24-hour period, I received three scam calls wanting me to pay to receive my delivery of a check. The callers sounded foreign. By the third call, I was really irritated.”
Tamara, who did not file a police report and prefers not to use her last name, just wants other seniors to beware because her aunt and uncle fell for such a pitch and it wiped them out financially.
She said one call requested $299 and the other $350 to claim her prize.
“The third one never got that far. I cut them off,” she said Monday. “Just because I’m a senior citizen doesn’t mean I’m stupid or greedy. You don’t get something for nothing. You have to work for it.”
Publishers Clearing House is a New York-based direct-marketing company that offers discounted magazine subscriptions and household merchandise to consumers with the chance to enter ongoing sweepstakes.
A spokeswoman for the Dowagiac Police Department, Patty Klug, said there is a “constant” stream of two to three scam complaints a week with frequent “new twists.”
Klug recalls one come-on that replicated Reader’s Digest’s logo almost accurately to create a facade of authenticity.
Klug said one of those twists is getting “checks” into the hands of the gullible because it makes it “harder to think it can’t be real.”