Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Avoid being swindled by area scams

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, November 13, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 6:20 am, Sat Nov 13, 2010.

Lodi residents have been victimized by a number of different scams in the last six months, affecting everyone from the unemployed to the elderly. Officer Leo Ramirez of the Lodi Police Department spoke to the News-Sentinel recently to go over the most prevalent scams in the area.

Mystery shopper: You've seen the ads before, even in the News-Sentinel: Get paid to go shopping! Companies advertising a job in which all you have to do is buy a few items at local stores and you'll receive money to rate the service. While it's true that many local businesses do use "secret" or "mystery" shoppers, some con artists are using a phony secret shopper service to swindle innocent people out of thousands.

According to Ramirez, the con begins when the victim calls to inquire about this so-called job, and is then sent some official-looking paperwork and a check for a few thousand dollars. The victim is instructed to deposit the check into their bank account, then go to a few local stores, usually chain establishments like Walmart or Target, and spend a couple hundred dollars on items there. They then are told to keep some of the money for themselves, and send the rest to an address via Western Union. Once the money is sent, victims are supposed to quickly notify the alleged employers and give them the transaction number.

The problem is, the checks victims receive are fraudulent, and if the banks don't realize it when the check is deposited, the victim will later be responsible for the money they send to the scammers. And although an address is provided where the money is wired to, it's often a fake as well. Truthfully, once the con artists have the transaction number, they can receive the money anywhere that Western Union is available.

Some of the victims have actually been saved from the scheme when banks refused to honor the checks, Ramirez said, but there have been a few victims who sent money and lost more than $1,000.

Grandchild in trouble: This scam specifically targets the elderly, who are targeted more often than any other age group, Ramirez said.

Schemers, who have become very sophisticated in their scams, will discover the name of a senior's grandson or granddaughter. They will then call the victim and tell them their grandchild has been injured or is in trouble, and a second schemer will take the phone and pretend to be the grandchild. The fake grandchild will never stay on the line for long, just enough to convince the victim that the setup is genuine.

Much like the mystery shopper scam, the target is then asked to wire money to a phony address via Western Union. In all of these cases, not once has there actually been anyone injured or in trouble, Ramirez said.

Border crossing: Hispanics are targeted in this scheme, where the con artists call the victim and say they are trying to help one of their relatives cross the border from Mexico into the United States. Somehow the scammers learn the name of the one of the victim's relatives, increasing the likelihood the scam will sound believable. The target is always asked to send money to facilitate the border crossing, but the schemers never allow them to speak to the supposed relative that needs help.

The lottery jackpot: Mail scams have been around for decades, and they still continue to this day. Some local residents have been receiving fake notices that inform them they have won a big lottery jackpot. Sometimes the notices look slick and professional, Ramirez said. The letters are allegedly from lawyers representing the state, who are writing to inform the victim of their "jackpot." Of course, it cannot be delivered unless the victim sends a few thousand dollars to cover shipping costs and attorney fees.

To avoid being swindled in scams like these, Ramirez said the most important thing people should remember is to never send money to potential scammers, especially via money-wiring services. Wire transfers are virtually untraceable, Ramirez said, since the perpetrators can claim the money from anywhere nationwide.

And if you're ever involved in a financial deal you're afraid may be a scam, you can always report it to the Lodi Police Department at (209) 333-6727.

Contact reporter Fernando Gallo at fernando@lodinews.com.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 98

Loading…

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists