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Old scam with new twist; Iowa State Patrol warns about latest scam targeting elders

Posted at 6:59 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 19:59:52-05

DES MOINES, Ia. (KMTV) — Many people have received a scam alert saying a loved one is “in trouble, send money now.”

With warnings, public service announcements, and stores working with law enforcement—scam artists are shifting to new tactics.

“The new wrinkle is that they are sending people out. Once they get that elderly person to commit, they will send someone to pick up the money,” said Ryan DeVault, public resource officer for the Iowa State Patrol.

Trooper DeVault says one reason they might not be afraid to walk up to your door and get the money is due to COVID; facemasks cover their face and hide their identity.

The scammers also use social media as a way to make their stories more believable.

"They are actually going into social media accounts and collecting some unique information just to give that feel that we are talking about the same person,” said DeVault.

The scammers also team up with additional people who pretend to be a doctor, lawyer or law enforcement to further convince you of the legitimacy of the scam.

Here are some things you can do if you are concerned someone might be committing fraud:

  • Verify the person's identity; ask questions only your family member will know.
  • Don't act quickly or secretly. They prey on your emotions by using fear, excitement and sympathy.
  • Call your loved one’s cell phone and check on them or someone who may know where they actually are.
  • When they leave, report the scam to law enforcement immediately.