Brian Roebke photo
Wrightstown Police Chief Greg Deike said the department is getting more calls about scams than ever before. He told the crowd at last week’s Coffee with a Cop event they need to be aware of the scammers and how to avoid being scammed.
By Brian Roebke
The Wrightstown Police Depart-ment is getting more calls than usual about scams than ever before, and Chief Greg Deike told the crowd at last week’s Coffee with a Cop event at The River Coffee & Cream in Wrightstown they need to be aware of the scammers and how to avoid being scammed.
“People are being scammed out of anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars or more,” he said.
The department recently took a complaint of a $7,000 loss but because it was reported early, they got some of the money back, but “when it’s gone, it’s gone,” Deike said. “It’s overseas somewhere and we can’t retrieve that money.”
The largest amount of money he’s had a complaint for was more than $10,000 when an elderly woman in Rosedale, who lost her husband, also lost all of that money out of her retirement fund.
“All I could do is hold her hand and said I was sorry, but you’re not going to see that money again,” he said.
As heartbreaking as it is for them to lose the money, it’s heartbreaking for him to tell them the money is gone and they can’t get it back because it was a fraud.
While scammers traditionally target senior citizens, they’re now hitting people of all ages. For various reasons, the most susceptible people are those who are retired and older.
He worked on computer crime investigations for six years and his own father fell for a scam.
“He got a pop-up on his computer saying his computer had a virus and click this link and …. He paid money,” Deike said. “He knows. I’ve told him these stories, so everybody is susceptible to this stuff.”
Even governmental entities are getting scammed. Village employees recently received an email from someone using the village president’s name, but the address they’re using is from a different firm. That should wave a red flag when the email address is out-of-the-ordinary, but if the person receiving that doesn’t notice the address, they can fall for it.
“It said, ‘can you pay for this invoice for this amount of money to this account,’” and it almost happened,” Deike said.
He said scammers keep doing this because people keep giving them money. “Once that money is gone, it is pretty much gone,” Deike said.
Someone in the village received a text message from what appeared to be her pastor, asking to lend some help to a woman in the congregation by purchasing $300 in gift cards from Dick’s Family Foods. She called back and gave them the PIN numbers, and the scam was successful.
“We were able to get most of that money back but some of it was gone,” Deike said, noting they intercepted the transaction before it got to the scammer.
The majority of the scammers are from out of the country and once they are found out, they shut down their operation and move to a new location and start all over again.
A man at the event recalled how he received a call saying his daughter was kidnapped but the Wrightstown Police Department handled it very well after he asked them to come to his house.
“That’s what we call a typical grandparent scam,” Deike said. “That’s been out on the news quite a bit and it’s still very prevalent in our community.”
Thankfully, he doesn’t think anyone in the village was victimized by this scam.
“We’ve got to fact check these things before we start giving money out,” Deike said.
If people start to think “scam” first before acting, they will be better off. The key is to not give out any numbers or personal information to a financial institution. “They should have that already, unless you initiate the call,” he said.
Deike also pointed out the IRS is not going to call you asking for money over the telephone.
Deike told the audience that scammers and stalkers can easily get information from social media, and the police can do that as well to help solve crimes.
“People put so much information on Facebook or the other social media accounts,” he said. It’s very easy to go find out a bunch of information about the person and through the people they socialize with.
People are also being scammed by “snail mail,” done very similarly to electronic methods. They can pose as a reputable company, but perhaps one letter is different so they can fool people.
Sometimes fake companies send fake invoices that people actually pay.
Sadly, Deike has never arrested a scammer during his career because most of them aren’t even in the United States.
“I can’t go to Turkey or Istanbul or some of these places,” he said.
Deike said he loves it when people come to the village hall to check out if things are legitimate. “That is a lot less work for me than if they’ve lost 10 grand,” he said.
“By all means, you’re not wasting my time. You’re probably saving me time,” he said.