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Scammers try wearing down victims

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Hanging up isn’t deterring scammers who call trying to bilk residents out of their cash.

Police have found that the callers are trying a new tactic: persistence.

So far this week, at least two local residents have told police the same story about a scammer who calls them multiple times, with different stories that all ask them for money. They tell them off, they hang up, but the scammers keep calling.

Police get reports about scam phone calls, often aimed at seniors, nearly every day, Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said.

So far this week, a Trafalgar resident received a call from a man claiming to be with “the arbitration department” and telling him that he owed money for a traffic accident his ex-wife had been in. The scammer then called three times in three days, attempting to use the same scam with the man’s current wife having been in an accident.

Another woman said she had received multiple calls over a few days, each attempting a different scam. The caller claimed the woman had won a car and $2,500 in cash and asked for a bank account number or money in order to receive the prize.

Neither resident fell for it, but others do, police said.

“It seems every day brings a new one,” Cox said. “It’s heartbreaking when these elderly people are losing so much money while people from overseas are laughing all the way to the bank. I say that because they are. Some people have called back to the person who stole from them, and the scammers will just tell them that they are stupid.”

The frequency and variety of scams have increased over the years, but common themes include prize money for a contest the resident didn’t know about or a friend or relative facing an emergency, who needs money wired. People should always check out the stories they are being told, Cox said. They can also search the phone number online to find out if the number already has been reported as the source of a scam.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Check with other people who you trust,” Cox said.

People should not hesitate to call the police to report scams, even though police face a big challenge in finding the callers, who often are not in the U.S., he said.

“A lot of people will say, ‘I don’t want to bother the police.’ But I’d much rather you bother the police than lose your life savings,” Cox said.

Residents should avoid talking to the scammers at all, Greenwood assistant police chief Matt Fillenwarth said.

“They will start asking questions just like any con man,” he said. “They’ll try to get information, even listening to hear if there are kids playing in the background. Once you start talking to them, they are formulating some way to get into your pocket and get your money.”

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