Phone scams target N. Arizona seniors

PRESCOTT, AZ - The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office wants residents to beware of two phone scams targeting seniors.

One scam involved two men with "Mexican accents," who identified themselves to an 87-year-old Cottonwood resident as Social Security employees in the "medical department," according to a news release from the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.

The men told her they were collecting a list of senior citizens over 60 years old on Social Security and requested her bank account number and check routing number, according to the release. They then provided the victim with her name, birth date, and bank to prove their identity.

Although hesitant to provide her information, the victim finally conceded when the men told her she would receive written confirmation of the call within 10 days. They also provided her with a toll free number for additional questions, officials said.

The woman called the number and found it disconnected. She then immediately closed her bank account, according to the release. In addition, deputies suggested the woman check for fraud activity on her credit report.

A second scam, which has been reported numerous times by Yavapai County residents, involves an elderly victim called to wire money to their "son" in a Canadian jail, according to YCSO.

The "Canadian Jail Scam" reportedly happened to a 63-year-old Village of Oak Creek resident on July 2, the release said. A woman received a call from a man claiming to be her son, who said he was arrested for a DUI in Canada. He then asked the woman for $1,000 bond wired via Western Union, and promised an attorney would call her shortly with more information.

According to the release, the "attorney" contacted the woman with details on where to send the money, and she went to a Sedona Safeway to wire the cash.

The victim realized she had been duped after calling her daughter-in-law, who told the woman her son was at home, not Canada, officials said. The woman contacted deputies, and they suggested she call Safeway. They confirmed the wire was processed.

Fortunately, she was able to contact Western Union and place a hold on the funds, according to the release.

Deputies are urging anyone who cares for seniors, or has seniors in their family, to warn them of these scams.

In addition, deputies suggest:

  • Do not fill in the blanks. If the caller says, "It's your grandson," respond with "Which one?" Most likely, the perpetrator will hang up.
  • Verify the caller. Always confirm your grandchild's identity by saying you will return the call at his or her home or on his cell phone (but don't ask the caller for it). If you don't have your grandchildren's phone numbers, contact a trusted family member for them.
  • Do not provide any account numbers. Never provide your bank or credit-card account numbers to any caller, even someone claiming to be from your bank - regardless of the reason.
  • Be suspicious of any request for money wires.
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