When Boonville resident Lisa Oldham received a call last week telling her she had received money from the Federal government via a grant, she knew it was a scam. What she was not ready for was the fact these people knew much about her.
While Boonville residents have been bombarded with scams in the past several years, scammers are becoming more creative. For example, one area resident received a call from someone she thought was her grandson needing money, but when she began questioning this individual she knew that the person on the other line was just an impersonator trying to get her money.
In Oldham’s case, she not only got one call, but multiple calls with different amount totals.
“At first it was $11,000, then it became $9,000,” Oldham said.
When she tried to call back with the code she was given, the number was not a working number. While she knew it was a scam she thought she would do some investigating.
It was the information they knew about her that got her really wondering.
“They knew where I lived – everything,” she added.
The callers, she said, had southern and foreign accents.
The numbers that called were, 202-744-4522 and 206-568-9573.
“They tell you it's the Recovery Count Dept 206-596-0611,” Oldham said.
Oldham said they gave her instructions and told her she didn’t have to pay taxes on the money.
“They want to know if you have a Western Union or a Wal-Mart , CVS , Walgreens etc. They said it's part of the (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) from 2009) and that they are with United States Federal Government Grant out of Washington DC,” she said.
With scams getting more complex, Oldham hopes to warn others from taking the bait, especially senior citizens. She said that people may believe something is true when someone tells them information they do not think many know or is readily available.
Unfortunately, scammers have been using the ARRA to prey on innocent people.
“Criminals have taken this information and started to contact random people via phone or e-mail, claiming to be working for ARRA. Scammers inform the victims that they qualify for a $9,000 federal grant coming from the stimulus,” according to scam-detector.com. “Using official verbiage from the bill, crooks require that the 'recipient' pay a small administration fee (our reader Catrina was asked for $221) in order to receive the money. Criminals also ask that this 'fee' to be paid via MoneyGram or Western Union. To be more efficient, scammers send victims to the real website of the Recovery Act and sometimes even impersonating the ARRA board members. This way, when victims research the website they find the real person there, not knowing the scammer just claims to be him/her.”
Individuals are urged to report this scam so law enforcement individuals can keep track of what scams are being perpetrated. In Boonville, residents may call the Boonville Police Department at 660-882-2727.
Oldham hopes this information can help others not fall victim to this scam or any scam for that matter.