Posted 8:50 AM 3/20/2012 : Crime Trackers: How to avoid getting scammed
TUCSON - Pima County residents are getting scammed. The Sheriff's department reports that in 2011, some residents lost $755,523.14.
Harold Westberg, 80, was a target, but didn't fall prey to it. He tells News 4, a woman who sounded like one of his granddaughters called and told him she was in trouble: she had gone to a wedding in Canada and was arrested for DUI, she told him. She was in jail and she needed $6,400.00. Westberg says, "The end result, I said I wasn't going to send the money without talking to her mother, and she hung up."
Westberg, a former police detective adds, "You don't send $6,000 to somebody on their word alone."
He called his son, Sgt. Bruce Westberg with the Pima Co. Sheriff's Department. He also happens to be in charge of the Financial Crimes unit.
"I think a lot of times emotion comes into play so give into the scam," Sgt. Westberg said.
Grandpa Westberg isn't alone. According to sheriff's statistics last year, victims from ages 20 to 90 lost money to scam artists. One individual lost $175,000.00 an international lotto scam.
Sgt. Westberg says, "There is no such thing as an International Lottery, so don't think that you won it. Especially if you never entered it."
He believes the current economic conditions are a factor.
"A lot of people are desperate for that quick fix to their economic problems," Sgt. Westberg says. "They believe this is what they need to solve their money problems."
Another scam that's made it big: people buying items on craigslist. The buyer sends you a check for more than the item is worth.
"Person calls you up and says I made a mistake I paid you too much, can you cut me a check and send me the item," Sgt. Westberg explained. By the time you realize it the original check has bounced, and you're out the item and some cash.
In most cases, the cash is sent overseas.
"Unless we can find some local associations we can't go to Nigeria we can't go to Russia to try and retrieve funds," Sgt. Westberg said.
The best advice according to Grandpa Westberg: "If it sounds too good to be true,it's too good to be true."
Since the beginning of the year, Sgt. Westberg says victims have already lost $77,110.00. That's only what's been reported to the Sheriff's Department - there is no way of knowing how many of these scams go unreported.
If you feel you have been a victim contact police and file a report.
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