Posted: May 20, 2013 8:56 AM by Jen Fenter - MTN News
GREAT FALLS - Statistics from the state attorney general's office show that one in four elderly Montanans fall victim to scammers.
The scams can come in a variety of forms, but there are a few signs to watch out for that can help folks from becoming a victim.
Martha Blevins received a phone call about a month ago from an out-of-state number saying she was the big winner.
"The whole time my heart was beating about 100 mph, because I thought maybe, maybe it's true," Blevins recalled.
She told us that the man on the phone told her $2.5 million and a brand new Mercedes Benz would be delivered to her as soon as she put $499 on a reloadable debit card.
Once he confirmed the money was there, he would deliver her prizes, which she says raised some red flags.
"I said, this is too good to be true. And I had talked to him for a while, and he says, ‘Ma'am, I'm a preacher by trade. I would not lie to you.' I said, ‘Ok, that pretty much does it.'"
Sold on the idea she had just won, she started making phone calls to find out about the Green Dot Money Pak, and Blevins soon realized that she was being scammed.
The Montana Attorney Generals Office reports more than 1,400 complaints were received in 2012 and of those who identified their age, 35% were over the age of 60.
A fairly accurate portrayal across each of the top five scammed communities in the state showed that older folks are being targeted by scammers.
Great Falls Police Sgt. Bryan Slavik says that over the last five to 10 years, as technology integrated itself into our everyday lives, the number of scams climbed. He says it's a difficult crime to prosecute as most scammers are crossing state lines, and sometimes even international borders.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim is to report suspicious information and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is.
A new law out of the 63rd Montana legislative session allows courts to impose an additional $10,000 penalty for each scamming violation against those older than 60 or those with developmental disabilities.