The Pryor Times

Local News

January 7, 2014

Phone scammers operating in Pryor

PRYOR, OK — Phone scammers are ringing in the new year with a renewed effort to rob the elderly and disabled.

“A man called me and said that I’d been selected for a prize,” one elderly gentleman said. “He said that because I had donated to the policeman’s fund and my property taxes were current, that I’d been in the drawing.”

The Pryor resident was told he won $100,000 in cash as well as $1.2 million.

The scammer told the man he would hand-deliver the cash and later the resident would receive a cashier’s check for the $1.2 million.

Then the scammer delivered the familiar hook: he would need a small amount of money for “processing fees.”

In one of dozens of phone calls made to the would-be victim, the scammer gave instructions for the man to go to Walgreens and purchase two Green Dot reloadable debit cards.

“He told me one needed to have $99 put on it and the other had to have $500,” the man said. “Then I was supposed to give him the card numbers when he called.”

Walgreens Assistant Manager Timothy Smith said card requests from elderly customers have increased.

“There has been an influx of, seems to be, elderly customers asking about those cards,” Smith said. “We’ve had quite a few.”

Smith said his staff tries to inform the customers as best they can.

“They’ve been pretty specific as to what their instructions were,” he said. “We try to inform them about the scam and encourage them to contact the police before they send money to someone they don’t know. We try to protect them as much as possible.”

In this man’s case, the scammer brazenly told him he would meet him in the parking lot of Walgreens to collect the money cards.

Law enforcement was called while the intended victim was in the store and Pryor Police responded.

“The man (scammer) called me three times while I was sitting in the police car giving a report,” the resident said, adding that the officer even spoke to the scam artist.

No one showed.

Incredibly, the scammer was not deterred and continued to call the elderly man, even contacting his son and initiating a three-way call to try and get the son to convince his father the “contest” was legitimate.

Pryor Police Captain Steve Lemmings said though there is an obvious boost around the holidays, law enforcement deals with scams of all kinds 24/7.

Lemmings suggested the citizens try to get a good call back number, a name and as much information as they can and contact the police before giving out personal information or sending money to strangers.

“If you get a check in the mail with instructions to cash it and send a portion back, don’t do it,” he said. “People don’t do business that way.”

In this man’s case, suspicion kept him from getting the cash cards and he lost no money. However, he said he understood an elderly woman in Mayes County may have lost $3,000 from a similar scam.

“These people are relentless,” Lemmings said. “Just remember nothing is free. If it sounds to good to be true, chances are that it is.”

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