Porter Police are
crediting a local taxi driver with foiling an attempted fraud against an
elderly Dunelander on Monday.
police, Tonya Gonzales, a cabbie for 219 Taxi LLC, was driving the
Dunelander to the bank when she overheard the woman--speaking to an unknown
person on her cell phone--being instructed to withdraw $5,000 from her
account and send it to a UPS store to “pay the taxes” on lottery winnings.
the scam for what it was and contacted the Porter PD for assistance in
persuading the Dunelander that she was on the verge of being defrauded.
“It goes without
saying that Tonya Gonzales deserves praise for her recognition of this
situation and contacting the police department for assistance,” Capt. John
Lane said. “Her actions prevented this resident from becoming another victim
of financial fraud. Thank you, Tonya.”
The scam in
question works this way: targets are told by an unknown caller that they’ve
won a lottery which they had no idea they’d entered but to receive their
winnings must pay “taxes” or “duties” or “fees,” usually by wire transfers
or through pre-paid gift cards.
One red flag of the
scam: caller ID often shows the 876 area code: Jamaica. On the other hand,
technology now permits scammers to spoof any area code they desire.
Lane noted that
this particular scam is a common--and frequently successful--one, to which
retirees and seniors are especially vulnerable. “It is no secret that those
who are retired often have money from years of hard work and saving and
therefore are often targeted to be victimized,” he said.
“As a police
officer, I’ve been asked, ‘How could anyone fall for such a scam,’” Lane
added. “Please note that the people who are victimized are not lacking
intelligence or common sense. The scammers have become expert in ‘sales’ and
are very convincing in their conversation: ‘Think of everything you can do
for your family’ or ‘Think of all the people you could help,’ appealing to
targets’ character and diverting their attention away from questioning the
“If you have
relatives who are retired or elderly, please take the time to have a
conversation and alert them to this and other phone scams,” Lane said.