The Riverside County Sheriff's Department - Lake Elsinore Station, in cooperation with the Riverside County Department of Adult Protective Services, would like to remind community members to be very skeptical of unsolicited telephone calls from phony businesses, banking institutions, foreign countries, or government agencies where promises or threats are made.
Recently, several of our community members have fallen victim to very convincing fraud schemes involving mortgage assistance, outstanding tax collection, foreign government assistance, and even to companies promising to return money lost in similar scams. These scams almost always request money be paid up front for services, or the threat of arrest, eviction or property seizure is made. Our older community members are most often targeted and victimized in these cases.
Just in the last week, a 76-year-old victim received an unsolicited telephone call from an individual claiming to be an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) collection agent. This phony agent said as a result of an audit of her 2008-2012 tax returns, she owed $4950. The phony agent convinced the victim she needed to take care of the matter immediately, or she would be arrested, taken to jail, have her assets frozen and her property seized.
The phony agent stayed on the telephone with the victim as she traveled to a local grocery store. At the grocery store, she was instructed to purchase numerous GreenDot Prepaid Credit Cards. The phony agent then instructed the victim to provide the GreenDot Credit Card numbers immediately. Shortly after providing the numbers and pulling the money off the cards, the phony agent telephoned the victim again and said additional funds were needed to avoid a lien on her personal residence. The victim repeated the process and more money was stolen.
Community members are strongly encouraged to contact their local law enforcement agency, or an allied government agency, before providing these scammers any money or personal information. Riverside County residents who are 65 years or older, or dependent adults (18 to 64 years old) can contact the Department of Public Social Services Adult Services Division CARE (Curtailing Abuse Related to the Elderly) Program at any time for assistance. CARE provides education to seniors and dependent adults, and one-on-one advocacy to those who need assistance filing complaints with regulatory or investigating agencies.
Community members are encouraged to contact the following agencies for assistance:
- Riverside County Sheriff's Department – Lake Elsinore Station
- Curtailing Abuse Related to the Elderly (CARE) Program
- California Department of Consumer Affairs
- Federal Trade Commission
- State of California Department of Justice - Office of the Attorney General
- Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
- Better Business Bureau Inland Empire
Tips for avoiding common fraud schemes can be located on the following Federal Bureau of Investigation website: www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud
The Lake Elsinore Sheriff's Station continues to investigate phony companies and scammers that victimize the community members we serve. If you believe you were victimized, or have any questions, please contact Investigator Holder at (951) 245-3119, or by email at LakeElsinoreStation@RiversideSheriff.org
Citizens may also submit an anonymous tip using the Sheriff's CrimeTips online form.
--Information from Riverside County Sheriff's Department