Coral Springs police cite increase in scams against elderly

90-year-old Army veteran says he fell for scam, lost thousands of dollars

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – A 90-year-old widower said he's out thousands of dollars after falling victim to a phone scam.

The Army veteran from Coral Springs said he didn't want to be identified because he's too embarrassed by what happened to him in late March.

"I got a call from a guy who said he was with a computer repair company and wanted to give me my money back," he said. "I knew it was too good to be true, but I decided to turn over my banking information."

"I was lost," he added. "If I had someone in the room with me, it would've helped me."

The elderly man said the man on the other line was a criminal.

"I gave him my info and that's when the threats began," he said. "He started telling me that I had to wire him $5,000 or he would wipe out my account."

In a panic, the man wired $4,998.

"I was scared out of my wits," he said.

 Scared and confused, the victim called Coral Springs police.

"It's just heartbreaking," Detective Robert Ames said. "As a(n) (economic crimes) unit, per month, we get about 30 reports, and sometimes it's climbing."

Coral Springs police said crimes against the elderly are on the rise.

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Whether they're posing as IRS agents or a distant relative who has fallen on hard times, scammers are using the phone to prey on the elderly.

From 2013-14, police investigated 450 reports, mostly involving the elderly. The following year, police saw that number increase to 458. In the last year, there have been nearly 610 reports.

"Whether it's going to close their account or turn off their power, it's enough to incite so much fear that they don't think about what they're doing," Detective Karen Hallman said. 

Making matters worse, Hallman said, scammers are stealing money from the victims' relatives by using Western Union or reloadable prepaid cards.

This makes it impossible for victims to get their money back, especially because most of the criminals live in another country. 

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"They're going to get the money from people without any questions," Detective Jason Deluco said. "They're going to make off before they're tracked."

So what's the best way to protect oneself? 

"Hang the phone up, because nine out of 10 times, they're moving on to someone else," Deluco said. "They know you're not playing their game, and they have a huge list of names."

Every month, the Coral Springs Police Department hosts workshops that will protect residents from falling victim to a scam. For more information, please visit the Coral Springs Police Department's Facebook page.

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