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"Authorities” Cook Up New Scams

Definition of fraud
Photo Courtesy Bondo/IStockPhoto

The con artist’s task is to cook up a scheme to separate you from yours. And Chef Charlatan is good at it.

His recipe is an age-old blend of guile and deceit, flavored with charm and smothered with persistence. Skilled in the slicing and dicing of human appetites, he’ll fold in a dollop of distraction, a taste of good fortune, even a sprig of your homegrown wishful thinking. With a magician’s legerdemain he’ll pepper the dish with a spoonful of excitement, a pinch of anxiety, and just enough of the sweet smell of success to make your mouth start to water. He’ll watch it simmer under medium to high heat for just long enough… and then voila! It’s dinner time.

However, as happens tens of thousands of times every year, this might also be the moment you come to realize that it’s your goose he’s been cooking and your cupboard now left bare.  Scammers are ever attentive to new ways to make a meal of unsuspecting consumers. Among the latest additions to their menu: impersonating police, government officials and other “authorities” you normally think you can trust. For example:

  • “The police” call to inform you that someone you know has been arrested and they’ve given your name to post bail.
  • “The IRS” calls to warn you that your tax payment has not been received and a warrant has been issued for your arrest.
  • Or, “The Federal Trade Commission” phones to say a major fraud ring has been busted and your name is on the list to be reimbursed for the money you lost.


In each case, the pretense is designed to get you to send money upfront, typically by putting funds on a prepaid cash card and providing the “authorities” with the card number. If you encounter
any of these red flags hang up the phone and contact the real authorities directly.

If you need additional help, call an ElderWatch volunteer specialist at 1-800-222-4444 or in the Denver Metro Area, please call 303-222-4444

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