SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A 74-year-old Sioux Falls woman is out $150,000 after falling victim to a scam over the phone.
Unfortunately, police say the victim probably will never see that money again.
“This is a scam that began last year,” Sioux Falls Police Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said.
Police say the scammer called the woman last summer and said she’d won a large amount of money from Publishers Clearinghouse.
“This is a fairly common type of scam, the scammers basically say you’ve won fill-in-the-blank amount of money, but you have to pay the taxes and fees to get that money,” Clemens said.
The woman sent them the money, but when she lost contact with them and never heard from them again, she knew she had been duped.
“There’s lots of different variations of these over the years, people just need to do some checking do some verifying before they are sending any kind of money, transferring money, getting gift cards, Bitcoins any cyber-currency; the scammers are good at what they do, they are able to convince a lot of people of things that aren’t true,” Clemens said.
Police say the fraud unit will investigate this crime, but the victim shouldn’t hold her breath.
“The problem is names are made up, phone numbers can be spoofed or copied to make it seem like it’s a different number; same thing with emails, they can disappear as quickly as they are created,” Clemens said.
Once they have their money, the scammers disappear too.
“There’s work fraud detectives can do on this stuff, it’s difficult to say that people are going to get their money back; most of the time the money is gone and a lot of time what we’ve seen is the money is going overseas,” Clemens said.
Clemens says another red flag to look out for is if the caller makes it seem like there is a sense of urgency.