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Even at the age of 92, the homeowner was aware the men on the other side of her front door were would-be scammers. When they asked her to walk outside and help them hold a tape measure, she refused, then closed and locked the door.
Minutes later they gained access to her house by breaking in through her back door. She pressed her life alert button and told the men help was on the way. They left before the deputies arrived at her house.
A sheriff’s office spokesman said it is a common scam – to lure a homeowner outside while an accomplice breaks into a house.
While it has been a while since this particular scam was used, there are others taking their place, according to local law enforcement officials.
Recently we published a story that outlined some examples. On Nov. 23, one Lancaster resident was called by a person claiming to be a bank representative. The caller told the woman she owed $3,000 on a credit card. The caller said the matter would be resolved if she paid $700. She refused and the caller then said, “See you in civil court.”
Another woman was contacted by an individual who said she could reduce her credit card interest rate if she paid $795. She consented and gave the caller her credit card information and the charge was processed. After several hours she called the bank and found out that she had been scammed. She was advised to destroy her credit card and call the sheriff’s office.
Scammers are getting more clever and are adept at sounding legit.
Local law enforcement agencies warn people to guard their personal information like it is gold.
Lancaster County sheriff’s deputy Sam Funderburk, who is a member of the sheriff’s office Crime Prevention Unit, said there has been an increase of scams during the last few months – via mail, e-mail or telephone.
Funderburk says people should be extra cautious before giving out any personal information.
“Don’t believe them,” he said. “Double check with that business before you give that person personal information over the phone or online.
“Some businesses will ask for you to identify yourself so they can provide you with personal information about you. However, they also understand that most people do not like providing their personal information over the phone.”
Funderburk urges people to find out more information about scams by visiting the National Crime Prevention Council at www.ncpc.org. Some of the scams circulating now include travel fraud, sweepstakes scams and pyramids.
Some of the common ones to look out for include:
u The work-at-home scams where people send money to a company for training or materials.
u The vacation and travel frauds involve a free travel package that have hidden costs or listening to a timeshare sales pitch.
u Phishing involves an e-mail that says your account needs to be updated immediately. When you click on the provided link, it takes you to an authentic-looking site but in reality it is stealing your information.
u The Nigerian money scam has been around for awhile. Someone from a foreign country offers you lots of money in exchange for transfer fees. If you agree you will never see the money or your transfer fees.
u Charity scams operate under the pretense of collecting money for disaster victims. Instead of going for the intended purpose, that money fills the pockets of scammers.
In an earlier editorial, we’ve warned readers not to fall prey to schemes of something for nothing. But desperate times call for desperate means of scamming. Again, we caution you to educate yourself before you become a victim to any scam or flim-flam – and there are many out there.
Be especially greedy with your personal information. Just like gold, keep in a vault until you need it.