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Con Games and Scams

Each year, thousands of people report incidents of criminal fraud, swindles and confidence games. And it is estimated that for each reported incident, two or more go unreported because the victims are too embarrassed to admit they've been swindled.

Victims

Although anyone can be the target of a con game, elderly persons often become victims. Recent studies show that the average age of confidence game victims is 78 years old. The victims are frequently in declining health, have poor vision, are easily confused and have cash savings hidden in their homes. These victims are sought out because they are less likely to identify the thieves, or to prosecute if the thieves are apprehended.

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Method of Operation

Residential confidence offenders use different methods of operation to locate potential victims. They travel in groups by pick-up trucks, vans, automobiles or on foot during the daylight hours. Very often, the residential con offender observes his victim a day or more prior to the actual encounter. The victim may first be observed from a passing vehicle, by a child selling candy or cookies, or by a female posing as a political canvasser. Once a victim is located, a plan is devised and the offender returns later, armed with information about the victim and the residence.

These types of offenders will strike when an opportunity presents itself. If a potential victim is seen working in the yard, the offenders will take immediate action by entering the unattended, unlocked home to commit a burglary. The con offender's goal is to enter the victim's residence unopposed--for example, as a repairman or utility inspector. Once inside, the victim's attention is held by one or more members of the group, while the others roam through the house taking money, jewelry, collectibles, strong boxes or any concealable items of value.

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Method of Deception

The methods of deception that con offenders use are limited only by their imaginations. Some of the most popular used by adult con artists include the following:

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Prevention and What You Can Do

Here are some simple things you can do to help prevent con offenders from victimizing you and your neighbors:

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Do's and Don'ts to Protect Yourself from Con Games

Don'ts
Do's

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Internet Based Phone Scam Via Email

This a very IMPORTANT notice because it alerts you to a scam that is spreading extremely quickly, can cost you $100 or more, and is difficult to avoid unless you are aware of it.

There are lots of different permutations of this scam, but here is how it works:

You receive an email, typically with a subject line of ALERT or Unpaid Account. The message, which is being spread across the Net, says: I am writing to give you a final 24 hours to settle your outstanding account. If I have not received the settlement in full, I will commence legal proceedings without further delay. If you would like to discuss this matter to avoid court action, call Mike Murray at Global Communications at 1.809.496.2700.

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Phone or Pager Scam

You receive a message on your answering machine or your pager which asks you to call a number beginning with area code 809. The reason you're asked to call varies: it can be to receive information about a family member who has been ill, to tell you someone has been arrested or died, to let you know you have won a wonderful prize, etc. In each case, you're told to call the 809 number right away.

Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls. If you call from the US, you will apparently be charged $25 per-minute! Sometimes the person who answers the phone will speak broken English and pretend not to understand you. Other times, you'll just get a long recorded message. The point is, they will try to keep you on the phone as long as possible to increase the charges. Unfortunately, when you get your phone bill, you'll often be charged more than $100.00.

Here's why it works: The 809 area code is located in the Caribbean. The 809 area code can be used as a "pay-per-call" number, similar to 900 numbers in the U.S. Since 809 is not in the U.S., it is not covered by U.S. regulations of 900 numbers, which require that you be notified and warned of charges and rates involved when you call a "pay-per-call" number. There is also no requirement that the company provide a time period during which you may terminate the call without being charged. Further, whereas many U.S. phones have 900 number blocking ( to avoid these kinds of charges ), 900 number blocking will not prevent calls to the 809 area code.

No matter how you get the message, if you are asked to call a number with an 809 area code that you don't recognize, investigate further and/or disregard the message. Be VERY wary of email or calls asking you to call an 809 area code number.

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