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Scam Artists Setting Sights on Local Seniors

Telephone prizes, grandchildren in trouble and imposters posing as utility workers are some of the current ruses used to target seniors, according to the Lexington Police Department.

Following a recent uptick in reports of scams targeting local seniors, police in Lexington are warning residents to think twice before wiring a $3,000 to get a grandson out of trouble. Same goes for sending money to some island to claim lottery winnings.

According to Det. Brian Savage of the , recent cases of fraudulent activity in Lexington have bilked some residents out of thousands of dollars.

Seniors can be especially attractive targets as they tend to be less likely to report the crimes and more likely to trust a scammer on the phone or a perp pretending to work for a local utility, according to Savage, who said recent reports include both kinds of crimes.

Lexington Police have seen recent telephone scams asking victims to wire money or divulge credit card or bank information to claim lottery winnings or other prices. Another scam involves a phone call telling the victim they need to send money to help a family member in jail or needing money for a medical issue.

To help guard against this kind of scam, police have spoken to the manager at Stop & Shop, the town’s only Western Union Outlet, to make the store aware of these kind of scams, Savage wrote in an email to Patch.

“Several elderly residents have gone in there recently and wired money,” he explained. “They are usually told their grandson has been arrested and is being detained pending the transfer of money. They informed one resident not to contact the grandson’s parents, because he wanted to talk to them himself after he was released.”

The victims are usually asked to send around $3,000, according to Savage.

In the utility scam, Savage explained a person pretending to work for a gas or electric company will ask a resident to step outside for a minute to talk about some work to be done in the neighborhood. While they’re outside, a second perpetrator will ransack the home, stealing cash, jewelry and silverware.

In a recent post on its website, the local Better Business Bureau outlines the four most prominent scams for seniors to avoid. Those include sweepstakes and lottery scams and grandparents scams, along with deceptive sales and Medicare scams.

The deceptive sales involve individuals going door-to-door on behalf of their business and trying to cause a sense of urgency by lying about safety issues or exaggerating the problem to drive up prices for their services, the BBB says.

Medicare-type scams usually involve a phone call and some phony excuses to get victims to reveal things like Social Security or bank account numbers.

Both the LPD and BBB say new scams are being reported all the time. So don’t hesitate to contact the Lexington Police Department (781-862-1212) if you feel you are being taken advantage of over the telephone, or see suspicious activity in your neighborhood.

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