Iowa ranks very low in the number of complaints per capita made of fraud and identity theft. We ranked 48th in the nation for fraud complaints, and 46th for identity thefts. Who made the most complaints? Residents of Florida did. So although their weather (at least in the winter) is more pleasant than ours, there are some drawbacks to living there!
Publisher Clearing House Winners
So far in March, I received 14 calls from people who reported someone called them claiming to represent Publishers Clearing House. The caller wanted to award them winnings, usually $2.5 million, from a sweepstakes. To claim the prize they needed to purchase a Green Dot Moneypak, load money to the card, anywhere from $120 to $499, and call the caller back. All the calls come from the 876 area code, which is assigned to Jamaica. Several of the calls came from the same number, and the caller used the same name. This scam has been around for years, but is really getting pushed now, and the new twist is the use of the Green Dot Moneypak. I need to give a shout-out to the staff at Walgreens at 1905 N. Second St. in Clinton. A Clinton woman got the sweepstakes winning call, and went to Walgreens to get her Green Dot card, but the management there warned her of this scam, preventing her from losing $499. Great work, Walgreens!
I saw WQAD-TV in the Quad Cities ran a story on the grandparent scam, reporting three Quad-City residents lost money in this fraud in one weekend. Yes, this particular scam shows no sign of going away. This fraud involves a senior citizen getting a phone call from a young person impersonating a grandchild. The grandchild needs money immediately to get out of jail, pay for a hospital bill or some other dire emergency. A rural Clinton woman called this week to tell me she almost fell for this scam. This woman, a regular reader of this column, heard about this before, knew of all the warnings, but when the call came to her, she believed it, considering everything the caller said sounded plausible. She was prepared to scrape up the $1,500 demanded to bail this young man out of a Las Vegas jail, when her husband suggested they try to call the “grandchild.” Guess what? The grandchild answered from his dorm room in Cedar Falls, not a jail cell in Las Vegas.