Chesterton Tribune



Porter PD credits taxi driver with foiling scam against senior

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Porter Police are crediting a local taxi driver with foiling an attempted fraud against an elderly Dunelander on Monday.

According to 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.

Gonzales recognized 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 lottery winnings.”

“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.



Posted 10/3/2017




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