Monday, August 6, 2007

Senior Citizens Urged to Look out For Scams. Fraud is On The Rise Via E-mail and Letter.

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa - Emily Oxenreider would appear to be EXTRAORDINARILY LUCKY!!!According to a recent letter she received, the 85-year-old Landisville woman was a "BONA-FIDE CASH WINNER of up to $10,000.

"Then came an astounding offer from the "El-Mundo On-Line Sweepstake Lottery" promising "TWO MILLION EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS."Mrs. Oxenreider seemed to be poised for yet another windfall in April when she was promised $815,950 from the "SPANISH SWEEPSTAKE LOTTERY/INTERNATIONAL PROGRAM.

"Such messages have much in common besides their foreign postmarks and urgently barking CAPITAL LETTERS.They're blatantly counterfeit. But they've fooled thousands.Nationally and in Pennsylvania, said state Office of Attorney General spokesman Nils Frederiksen, people over age 60 make up about a third of all fraud victims.

"One of the favorite devices for extracting money is to send a check," Morrison said.The scammer asks the recipient to deposit the check and immediately wire a portion of it to a third party to cover a supposed tax or expense or to benefit a charity. When the check bounces, the victim is left holding the bag.

Today's sophisticated printers can produce counterfeit checks with realistic watermarks, he added.According to the Fraud Center, fake check scams topped the list of telemarketing scams in 2006. The average loss for victims of all ages was $3,278.

Online phishing by criminals who send fraudulent e-mails directing recipients to fake Web sites is exploding.

Scammers play the odds, figuring that a fraction of their audience will bite, Frederiksen said. And they know they stand scant chance of getting caught.Years of pursuit by the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Secret Service have failed to stamp out the infamous Nigerian scammers, he noted.

Older victims in particular might be less likely to believe that someone is deliberately scheming to deceive them, Frederiksen added.

He encouraged civic groups interested in hosting an interactive Senior Crime Prevention University program to call 772-0907 or visit

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