published Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Police warn about fraud check scams targeting elderly

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Police warn of a new fraud check scheme that seems to be targeting elderly people.

In Calhoun, Ga., police have been bombarded with complaints from the elderly that they have fallen for or been contacted by a fake company trying to scam their pocketbooks, said police spokesman Lt. Tony Pyle.

The scheme, similar to others in the past, claims the person receiving the mail is a lottery winner, but the “winner” must pay a certain amount for taxes, Pyle said.

The victim is asked not to clear the check until he sends back their money. But when the check goes through the bank it bounces.

Two weeks ago an 85-year-old Calhoun man lost $5,000 when he sent a check and his fake winnings check bounced, Pyle said.

“It’s a never-ending scheme,” Pyle said. “They run these things until they don’t work anymore.”

Another scheme that has been nicknamed the grandma scam tugs at grandparents’ emotions by using their grandchildren as pawns, Pyle said.

An elderly Calhoun woman was persuaded to send a check for several thousand to Mexico when she got a call saying her grandson had been thrown in jail in a traffic accident, Pyle said.

Without calling to check, the grandmother rushed to her bank and wired the check. She found out later her grandson had never left the country, Pyle said.

Another scam in the East Tennessee area that the Knoxville division of the FBI is warning about involves another fake company.

UT-Battelle LLC has sent counterfeit checks from $2,200 to $3,000 through FedEx to multiple homes, directing the victim to deposit the check into a personal account, said FBI spokeswoman Stacie Bohanan in a news release.

But the victim is told to keep a portion of the money to send back to the company, she said.

The scam seems to target people who have listed items on Craigslist or have responded to an ad post. But elderly people are sometimes at a greater risk, said FBI Agent Kelly Kindness.

Most of the schemes are created out of the country, which makes it harder to catch the perpetrators, authorities said.

Anyone who is contacted by an unfamiliar company with a check that raises questions is urged to report it to the FBI’s website at

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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esaletnik said...

Rules to live by: 1. Don't answer the door 2. Don't answer the phone 3. Don't read you mail

September 11, 2011 at 11:44 a.m.
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