A spokesperson for the Menlo Park Police Department is urging residents to be aware of recent instances of elder fraud.
In one recent scheme a local couple was ripped off in an unlawful lottery scam. Law enforcement officials have not said how much money the con artists got away with. They have, though, indicated the criminals are calling elderly couples to relay they won some sort of prize. The only thing they need to do to claim the prize is to provide personal information or pay up-front processing fees.
In other cases they say they are a relative that is in need of emergency financial assistance.
Menlo Park Police Department officials said they are still investigating the most recent incident. A representative from the Federal Bureau of Investigations warns that older citizens are frequent targets for these types of schemes. The reasons are twofold. One, they are likely to have good credit and own their home. The second relates to the victim’s ability to age.
Elderly persons are believed to be more trusting. Criminals are also hopeful they will have memory problems. This can help them avoid capture. Older victims are less likely to remember details of the incident should they report it to law enforcement.
Many are afraid to report being victimized because they feel ashamed. Others simply do not know who to call or where to begin. Some have concerns that relatives will begin to question their mental capabilities.
Menlo Park Police Department representatives said the current scammers are calling from numbers that originate in Las Vegas and Jamaica. They draw the victim in with promises of luxurious prizes. Once they gain interest they ask for an up-front processing fee.
Sometimes they will request the victim send them a check. Many are requesting the money be sent via pre-paid gift cards or wire transfer. Authorities urge anyone who receives this type of request to contact them immediately.
Another version of the scam involves the caller posing as a family member. That person will say they have been arrested. They then request that money be wired in order to pay for bail bonds or legal expenses.
One grandparent is reported to have sent more than $7,000 to a Canadian address after being told their grandchild had been in a car accident. The caller said the funds were needed in order to keep them out of jail. That package was intercepted and the money was returned to its rightful owner.
Menlo Park Police Department investigators suggest residents avoid answering calls from unknown numbers. They are also urging community members to refrain from giving out personal financial information over the phone.