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Scams target SCV seniors

Sheriff’s Department warns residents to be skeptical of phone requests for money

Posted: November 6, 2009 10:11 p.m.
Updated: November 7, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Scam artists have been preying on Santa Clarita Valley seniors, especially residents in the Friendly Valley area, sometimes using a grandparent's concern for grandchildren as leverage, sheriff's officials confirmed Friday.

Multiple hoaxes have been attempted on local residents - and sometimes succeeded - after seniors in the Newhall community received calls from people trying to get their cash using fake stories.

In one incident last week, an 85-year-old resident said she and her husband almost fell for the trick.

"They called us and told us that our granddaughter was in Canada in jail and that she needed $3,600 to get out," said the woman, who asked that her name be withheld.

She said her husband received the call, spoke with a woman who was supposedly their granddaughter, and was told by a man to withdraw the money before taking it to a Walmart to process a money order.

But an employee at the couple's bank stopped her just in time, the woman said, telling her not to fall for the scam.

Another senior resident who lives in the Friendly Valley area wasn't so lucky a week earlier.

Ninety-four-year-old Marion Short said she received a call from a man who claimed to be a representative of her bank. He told her someone was trying to steal from her account, and he needed her cooperation to investigate the situation, Short said.

Following the man's instructions, Short said she withdrew $5,800 in cash before two women counted it and placed it in an envelope.

She then drove to a nearby Big Lots store and handed the envelope to a man who told her to go home in a cab, she said.

After receiving a call at home from a man who told her she did well, Short said she became suspicious and contacted police.

"I was devastated," Short said. "Six thousand dollars may not be a lot to a whole lot of people, but it's a whole lot of what I have."

Both women were members of Friendly Valley Community Church, where at least two other seniors recently reported similar incidents, said Pastor Stan Fix, who oversees the church.

Sheriff's deputies are advising senior citizens to be cautious of suspicious callers who ask them to withdraw money.

"If somebody calls and says they need money, you need to be very familiar with the habits of your family members and call and check that this is really a request from your family members," said Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Brenda Cambra.

"They're preying on (senior citizens') love for their family and their desire to help."

More safety tips about senior scams are available at www.scvsheriff.com/prog_tips_seniors.asp.

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