The police this week told of several dirty tricks scammers are currently using to take money from area residents. They are going after—as always—vulnerable, unsuspecting victims. The victims are most often elderly, but anyone could fall for these scams.
There is the lottery scam in which the “winner” simply has to open a bank account with a few thousand dollars. That one preys on the naive who never learned that what is too good to be true probably is. But who wouldn’t get excited about winning the lottery?
Then there is the scare tactic. Currently common is the NStar scam in which a caller informs intended victims that their electric bills are overdue and unless they pay with a debit card, the electricity will be turned off. And there is the “grandparent” scam in which a caller says a grandchild is in trouble and needs money.
There is another scam going around that the police did not describe this week. Rich Sherman of Sherman Financial told us this week of a client who received a call from someone who claimed to be with the IRS. The caller said back taxes are due and the person would be arrested unless a credit card number is given to cover them. The IRS scam is going on all over, Mr. Sherman said.
Scams are hardly new. The Internet spawned a whole slew of them. Everyone, it seems, knows of the wealthy man in Nigeria who is trying to get his money out of the country. The Internet scams have run their course, probably because everyone now knows about them.
Now we’re in the scary phone call phase.
The scare tactic is a powerful tool. There are many who are living on the edge of their means and for whom losing a utility because a bill has gone unpaid is not at all outside the realm of possibility. And the IRS can be scary to anyone, but is particularly frightening to someone who is not sure there is enough money to cover the rent.
It is a terrible thing that scammers go after the most vulnerable and attempt to scare them out of money they cannot afford to lose.