Senior citizens in Iowa are being warned of a dramatic increase in telephone scams. Jim Hegarty, of the Better Business Bureau, says because of the depressed economy, more people are looking to make a quick buck and the elderly are often easy targets.
“Many of these solicitations come from sweepstakes that tell them they’re finalists,” Hegarty says. “These are not designed to tap them for a lot of money, 30 or 40 or 50-dollars at a time.” Hegarty says these scammers prey on senior citizens because many of them are just lonely and looking for someone to talk with.
“Often time, the seniors are living alone,” he says. “They can be bored and sometimes they take these calls and they’ll hear these scammers out just long enough to get hooked into their pitch.” Hegarty says foreign lotteries are a popular scam. He says an 84-year old woman from the Omaha/Council Bluffs area was recently a victim in a sweepstakes scheme.
He says over a period of about three months, she wired out in excess of 40-thousand dollars to scammers in Jamaica. Hegarty says the schemes vary and include fraudulent insurance officers, prescription drug offers and home improvement schemes. He advises everyone to be wary if you receive a check in the mail and are urged to wire money back to the sender. Before doing any business with a company you are not familiar with, call the Better Business Bureau first to see if it is a legitimate business. There are BBB offices in Des Moines, Omaha and Bettendorf. To reach the nearest one, start by visiting: “www.bbb.org“.
By Karla James.