Knowledge best defense against scammers
By Haley Phillippi
For The Madison Press
Four London residents said they recently have become victims of scams.
They are finding that those who run these scams are becoming increasingly creative with developing new ways of ripping off area residents.
A retired London teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been a victim of several scams while trying to sell her time-share condominium.
The time-share was a part of the Wyndham Hotels in Delray, Fla. As time passed, the victim realized the time-share wasn’t being used much and it was time to sell.
“We had great vacations, but it got to the point where I couldn’t afford it,” she said.
There was a disclosure with the resort that stated it has the option to buy back the time-share if the customer no longer wanted it. The hotel did not want the share, so the victim decided to try to sell it on her own.
“I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars,” she said.
She started receiving calls from organizations about trying to sell the time-share.
“I would get calls that they were working on (the time-share) and then they were gone,” she said.
The victim had believed that these “sellers” were legit and gave them her credit card number. They promised the victim that they would sell the unit for her.
“Last year, I had to change my credit card number twice,” she said.
Then some other defrauders offered to help get the money back. The victim explained there needs to be a way for people to be able to get out of their time-shares.
The victim now has a company helping her with the legal matters. She has been working with the London Police Department (LPD) throughout the scamming process.
However, the LPD has no authority to act on the case.
“If you’re scammed once, stop,” the victim said. “(The scammers) are so desperate to sell and know how to talk a good line. I should have stopped.”
Scammers are not particular about whom they choose to victimize and steal from, said London Police Officer Brad Aleshire. Victims can be rich, poor, uneducated or educated.
“I have had several victims. I am tired of these people taking advantage of everyone in town,” Aleshire said.
Elderly people throughout the United States are seemingly on a hit list because they are such easy targets.
A London couple, a husband, who’s 89 years old, and wife, 86, are also victims of this vicious ring of scamming.
This couple received a phone call: “Congrats you’ve won $495,000.”
“I was on cloud nine,” the husband said.
The caller then proceeded to tell the couple to go to their London Walmart and wire a $900 money order to an unfamilar address in order to receive the cash.
The elderly couple took money out of their bank accounts. They never saw it again.
“I gave my daughter all of my problems physically and I wanted to leave her money,” the wife said.
The couple continues to receive numerous cards in their junk mail stating that they’ve won millions of dollars and to claim their prize.
According to Aleshire, mailmen have to deliver junk mail because it is a felony to dump the mail.
Another London woman with a physical disability also recently found herself a victim.
The morning of the scam she received a phone call. Her husband answered the phone and said a person claimed the couple had won $2 million.
In order to receive the money, the victim had to wire a $1,000 to someone named “Jose” in another country.
The victim sent it. When the scammers received the money, they called the victim back and told her they had run across a problem.
The problem was the government had found out about the $2 million and wanted tax money. The scammers then told her to send $300.
She sent $300 to a person named “Michael” — again overseas.
Yet another phone call came saying that her money was in the United States and had been stopped by federal agents. They claimed that she needed to send more money so the federal agents would release the money.
“At that time I realized that it was a scam and got ahold of the London Police Department,” the victim said.
Aleshire told her there was no way to track the scammers and to stop sending money.
The victim explained that once the defrauders have your phone number they continue to call you with requests. She has received 10 to 15 phone calls since the initial scam.
“I’ve gotten very wise to these people and how they work,” she said. “If people are offering a large amount of money, know in your heart that it’s a scam. I hate to think of people out there in the world being scammers, especially as hard as times are (today).”
Most of these scams come from Nigeria or Jamaica, Aleshire said.
Specific scams such as these are known as the 4-1-9 scam or the 8-7-6 scam. The 4-1-9 is an Nigerian area code; 8-7-6 is located in Jamaica. The offers come online, through newspapers, mail and advertisements. The scams look very legitimate. That’s why it’s so easy for people to fall for them.
Some web sites created by these scammers offer classes on how to cheat the Americans. The sites give information such as the location of the classes and how much it costs to participate.
Aleshire advises against wiring any money to an unknown person.
According to Aleshire, the department receives five reports a month on this type of activity. Many people in the county have been scammed and have just not reported it.
Aleshire said he has never caught one of the scammers.