Olmsted County residents scammed out of nearly $500,000
The Olmsted County Sheriff's Office reported that seven county residents were scammed out of nearly half a million dollars within the last month.
The Olmsted County Sheriff's Office is urging people to be vigilant after seven elderly residents were scammed out of more than $475,000.
Within the last month, the sheriff's office has received several reports of elderly people being scammed out of large amounts of money — the largest scam resulting in the loss of $350,000, according to a news release from Lt. Lee Rossman.
"The Sheriff’s Office and Olmsted County Adult Protection would like to remind those with elderly family members or friends to watch how they are managing their money. Not only those who are vulnerable adults but others living alone, lonely or depressed can fall for the smooth conversation of a con man," Rossman wrote in a news release. "Many victims have lost their life savings or go into deep debt after losing money to these criminals."
A Byron man was scammed out of $350,000 after meeting a Danish woman on Match.com. The woman told the man she owned a hotel in Africa and needed money to get it back into working order. The man sent her money in 15 transactions. The scam was reported by the man's financial institution.
A Stewartville-area woman lost $9,000 to a man she met on a "hangout" app. The man said he was trying to leave the United Kingdom but couldn't.
A Rochester woman lost $20,000 and had another $20,000 held up by Fed Ex "after she allowed two men to access her computer and bank account," according to the news release.
A Stewartville woman nearly lost $155,000 in a Publisher’s Clearing House lottery scam. The woman sent $5,000 believing she had won and needed to pay to receive her winnings. The woman was prepared to send $150,000.
A Byron man also fell prey to a lottery scam and sent approximately $80,000 to receive lottery winnings after receiving a phone call. The payments were supposedly for taxes and IRS fees.
Two Eyota men lost a combined $11,200 in utility and phone provider scams. One man paid about $7,2000 to a company claiming to provide utility services while the other lost about $4,000 in gift cards to a person claiming to be a representative of AT&T and DIRECTV.
To avoid falling prey to scammers, the sheriff's office reminds people to not buy gift cards if requested to do so by an unknown person. This is one of the most common and easily recognizable signs of scam.
"Stay in control of your financial records, sensitive documents, and computer access and not allow anyone access. Never give your personal information over the phone and resist the pressure from the caller to act immediately in giving information or sending payment," Rossman said. "Many businesses, such as banks or delivery services, are trained to recognize signs/evidence of someone being scammed and sending money to unknown persons so trust their recommendation if they believe you are being scammed or defrauded."
To report financial exploitation of an elderly person or vulnerable adult, you can call the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center at 1-888-880-1574 and they will forward the information to local investigating agencies like the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office, Rochester Police Department or Olmsted County Adult Protection offices.
For more tips and information, you may also contact the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Crime Prevention Office at 507-328-6777.
To report a loss or scam of a family member or friends, you can call the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office/Rochester Police Dispatch Center at 328-6800 extension 1.