9 On Your Side Consumer Alert
Don't get scammed
Scammers are getting pushy when it comes to getting their hands on your money
Reporter: Tammy Vo
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Each day, people all over the country get letters in the mail or phone calls claiming that they've won a prize or need to wire money in order to redeem that prize. Experts say, for the most part, it's a scam.
Winnie Auriemmo of Green Valley was presented with another scam. This time, involving her family. She recently got a phone call from who she thought was her grandson, Kyle.
"He said grandma do you know who this is? I said yes, it's Kyle" explained Winnie. Then, another man got on the phone saying that Kyle got a DUI in Mexico, was locked up in jail and needed $4,000 to get out.
"I didn't know where I was going to get the $4,000. I didn't have it available" said Winnie.
The man on the other end of the line told her to go to the bank and wire what she could. She showed up and bank staff told her to beware because it could be a scam. So did the Pima County Sheriff's Department . But just to be sure, she called her grandson. She got a hold of him and discovered that he was in the U.S., just fine. At that point she knew it was a scam.
The Pima County Sheriff's Department keeps track of these kinds of scams. Some of the biggest losses in the county can be traced to people in their 70's who are more trusting. One elderly person living in the Foothills lost $175,000.
"It's heart wrenching. You're looking at someone who saved their entire lives for retirement and think they won and were scammed" explained Sgt. Jim Grisham who heads up Pima County's Fraud Unit. He says that the most common scams are the grandson scam, job postings on Craigslist and the lotto scam.
"An individual gets a phone call telling them they won the lotto in that country, however, they need some money to be wired for the taxes. Once they receive that money they say they will forward the winnings to them. Sometimes folks fall for that" said Sgt. Grisham who explains that the so-called "winnings" never turn up. He also says that it's nearly impossible for investigators to get your money back because any names the scammers use turn out to be fraudulent and based out of another country.
How do you protect yourself? Experts say that if someone claims that your family member is in jail, pick up the phone and check it out before sending money. If you think you've won the lottery, ask yourself if you even played that lottery. Research the company that has contacted you and remember, you shouldn't have to give money to get money if you've truly won.
If you think you've been scammed and want to report it, you can do so with Pima County's Fraud Unit if it happened in their jurisdiciton or you can report it to the Attorney General's Office.