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Received this information in an email from a neighbor – the info is from the Fairfax County Police Department.  It is so sad but true, that there are people that will prey on our parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends. If you know someone who might fall prey to these thieves, remind them to never wire money based on a phone call alone.

Seniors Scammed; Police Educate

An 86-year-old Springfield area woman was told last week she had won the lottery. But there was a catch; she needed to wire money to the “caller” in order to collect her winnings. She did as she was asked.

A 91-year-old Fair Oaks area man was upset and concerned when he got a call from his “grandson” who said he’d been arrested and jailed in Peru a few weeks ago. Doing what any loving grandparent would, the man wired over $13,000 in an attempt to help.

An 80-year-old woman wired $4,800 to Bolivia to her “granddaughter” who was there for a wedding and had gotten into a serious accident; then sent $5000 more for medical expenses.

All three of these victims were recently duped by scammers who are aggressively preying on seniors. Sadly, these are just a few of the hundreds of cases detectives in the Financial Crimes Unit see each year. Worse yet, once money has been wired, victims have very little recourse and these cases are rarely prosecutable.

According to Financial Crimes Detective Tom Polhemus,“Education is key. We need to get the word out that people should not wire money to people they speak with on the phone. The amount of fraud in this area is of great concern to us.”

In an effort to help educate seniors, their children, and the community at large, detectives from the FCPD Financial Crimes Unit are available for group presentations. As the scams change from year to year, police are aware of particular details and want to help raise public awareness as well.

To learn more about financial crimes and scams or to report a crime, visit the Financial Crime Online Reporting site of the FCPD website at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/financialcrimes/.  To request a group presentation, contact Lucy Caldwell, Public Information Office at 703-246-3271.