Clear Lake police warn public of scam attempts


Local couple loses thousands through telephone scam


Last week a Clear Lake resident received a call from a young man who said over the phone, “Hi grandpa. Do you know which grandson this is?”  Grandpa answered and said, “It sounds like Andrew.”  The young man at the other end said, “Yes it is Andrew.  I am in South America and I have had an accident.  I was hit by a drunk driver and I have a broken nose.  I am at the rental car company and I need money to pay for the damages to the rental car.  Don’t worry, I am covered and you will get your money back.”  

Grandpa asked, “What are you doing in South America?” ‘Andrew’ replied, “I came for a friend’s wedding.  My folks don’t know I am here.  Please don’t tell them.  Just send the money and I will explain it all to them when I get home tomorrow.”

Although it was against their better judgment, Grandpa and Grandma love their grandson and they wanted to keep him safe.  ‘Andrew’ gave Grandpa instructions on how to send him over $3,800 by Western Union to an address in South America.  The next day ‘Andrew’ called back and said he had made a court appearance the night before and he was required to pay for the damage to the other vehicle before he would be allowed to leave the country.  He reassured Grandpa and Grandma that his insurance would cover this, too, and he would quickly repay them. Grandpa sent another $4,300 by Western Union to the address in South America. 

The following day Grandpa received another call from a man identifying himself as the Sheriff where ‘Andrew’ was located.  He told Grandpa that ‘Andrew’ was in jail and he would need $5,000 if Grandpa wanted to bail him out.  At this point Grandpa hung up and Grandma made contact with her daughter in California.  Mom contacted her son, who was home in Oregon and confirmed that he was not in South America.  Grandpa contacted the Clear Lake Police Department.

“Other than take a report, the Clear Lake Police Department was unable to do anything for this Clear Lake couple,” explained Police Chief Greg Peterson.  “Once they sent the money by Western Union it was gone.”

Because the perpetrators are in South America and outside the jurisdiction of the Clear Lake Police Department, apprehending them is impossible, he added.  “Beware.  There are many scams out there.” 

Most of these scams are operated from outside the U.S. and recovering money or charging those responsible is an impossible task, said Peterson.

Another scam that has been used in the North Iowa area is notifying people that they have won a large sum of money in a lottery, even though they never entered a lottery.  They are advised that once they send in money to cover the taxes they will receive their winnings. 

“Of course, these people never receive anything,” said Peterson.

Another well used scam is to purchase something from someone who advertised something on EBay, Craig’s List or even a local classified. The ‘buyer’ will then send the seller a very large check. After sending this check the ‘buyer’ will contact the seller telling them they made a mistake. They will ask the seller to cash the large check and keep what they are owed. Then they ask the seller to return the excess money by Western Union or a money order. After the seller sends off a check for this large overpayment, the large check they received from the ‘buyer’ will be returned as a forgery. The seller then becomes responsible for the large amount of money they have sent to the ‘buyer’ that is not covered by the forgery.

“These stories are very common in our community,” added Peterson.  “Most of the time community members recognize these schemes for what - Read More Via e-Edition

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