November 16, 2005
A Hood River senior citizen recently lost hundreds of dollars in a telephone scam that promised an almost 2,500 percent return on her money.
City Police Detective Stan Baker said the victim was informed that she had won a phony Reader’s Digest contest.
She was told that, in return for wiring a $900 handling fee, the company would deliver a $25,000 drawing prize right to her door.
Baker said the woman was spared the loss of another $900 because of a blunder on the other end of the wire.
The person picking up the second set of funds from another location could not remember the code word agreed upon for the transfer.
However, Baker said the $900 in stolen money cannot be recovered because there is no way to trace the suspect.
“What our victim didn’t know is that for amounts under $1,000, the person doesn’t even have to show identification to pick up the money,” he said.
Baker said a new identity theft scam revolving around jury duty is also in play via the telephone and e-mail.
He said the recipient is threatened with arrest for failure to show up and serve on a jury.
The caller claims to be the jury coordinator and informs the potential victim that a warrant has been issued for his/her arrest.
When the recipient of the call argues that he/she never received a notice for jury duty, the scammer moves in.
Baker said that individual then asks for a Social Security number and date of birth to verify the information.
“Once they get that from you, they are off the phone and your identity has been stolen,” said Baker. “Never, ever give out personal information over the telephone or computer.”
He recommends that residents be on guard against any incoming call with an unusual or enticing offer.
“If someone calls for any reason and wants to confirm your personal data, tell them that you’ll call them back.
“Then call the customer service number associated with that account and you’ll find out if the offer’s legitimate,” Baker said.