A 72-year-old Union woman fell victim to a scam last week after being told she would receive $5.5 million.
According to Union police, the victim was contacted by phone and a male caller told her to purchase a $250 money card to cover the cost of paperwork in order to receive the $5.5 million. The woman purchased the card and provided the caller with the card number.
The victim was told she would receive $155,000 in cash that day. She was told to wait for a red Mercedes that would be followed by a federal marshal, police said.
She was told the car and money both would be hers.
Union police issued a warning to residents to not share financial information over the phone with someone they don’t know.
Police also have warned of Internet and other scams. A resource for more information about scams and identity theft is www.IC3.gov, or the Union police station at 636-583-3700.
Following are some more popular scams that have been reported in the area.
Lotteries — Victims are randomly contacted by e-mail and advised that they were selected as the winner of an international lottery. To claim your winnings an initial fee, ranging from $100 to $5,000, is requested to initiate the process. The requested fee is usually sent via MoneyGram or Western Union.
Nigerian Letter — This scam combines the threat of impersonation fraud with a variation of an advance fee scheme in which a letter, e-mail, or fax is received by the potential victim. The communication from individuals representing themselves as Nigerian or foreign government officials offers the recipient the “opportunity” to share in a percentage of millions of dollars, soliciting for help in placing large sums of money in overseas bank accounts.
Payment of taxes, bribes to government officials, and legal fees are often described in great detail with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are out of the country.
Phishing/Spoofing — Phishing and spoofing are somewhat synonymous in that they refer to forged or faked electronic documents. Spoofing generally refers to the dissemination of an email which is forged to appear as though it was sent by someone other than the actual source.
The source will send an e-mail falsely claiming to be a legitimate business requesting credit card numbers, and bank account information after directing the user to visit a specified website. The website may appear to be very real but is only a gateway to funnel information to a third party.
Employment/Business Opportunity — Victims are contacted by bogus foreign-based companies that are recruiting citizens in the United States on several employment-search websites for work-at-home employment opportunities. These positions often involve reselling or reshipping merchandise to destinations outside the United States.
Almost always the merchandise is purchased with stolen credit cards and, if the victim who is doing the shipping, has to pay the bill.
Identity Theft — Identity theft occurs when someone appropriates the victim’s personal information without their knowledge to commit theft or fraud. Identity theft is a vehicle for perpetrating other types of fraud schemes.
Typically, the victim is led to believe they are divulging sensitive personal information to a legitimate business, sometimes as a response to an email solicitation to update billing or membership information, or as an application to a fraudulent Internet job posting.