Watch out for scams over the phone

by Jim Boyle

Elk River police and citizens alike are urging people — particularly senior citizens — to not fall victim to scams.

The police have taken several reports in recent weeks from people who have received phone calls from people claiming to be a grandson and in need of money to get out of jail.

In other instances people have been told they have won a sweepstakes, but first they need to wire a large sum of money to claim the prize.

In one case, an 84-year-old woman went to a local bank to withdraw funds to a “Canadian Sweepstakes” but was advised by a bank employee to talk to the police first. No funds were withdrawn.

“In these economic times, some people will do whatever it takes to make a buck or two,” said Elk River Police Capt. Bob Kluntz. “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

It was a 76-year-old Elk River woman who reported receiving a fraudulent phone call where the caller claimed to be her grandson and he needed money because he was in jail in Peru.  No money was transferred to Peru.

Community members have brought forward other instances of attempted fraud, including the type that call for using “Western Union” to wire money.

“Please inform everyone that you can about these ‘Western Union’ scams,” said Raphael Kraljic. “They have made two efforts to scam me.”

Kraljic said the first involved sending a check for a couple thousand dollars so he could begin a job as a mystery shopper. The recipient was to cash the $2,000 Wells Fargo (Faribault branch) check, then immediately send $1,000 back via Western Union.

“I turned the check over to my bank and they confirmed the check was bogus.” Kraljic said. “Had I followed their request I would be out $1,000.”

The second was a request from a friend, using her email address requesting money in England, as her purse had been lifted, Kraljic said.