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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Press Release: Elderly Scam

Brookline Police Department Scam Warning- Advanced Fee Fraud

On June 17th, 2011, the Brookline Police Department was made aware of one known elderly Brookline resident who had fallen victim to an “inheritance” scam, with a very large monetary loss from their personal bank accounts. The scam began with initial contact being conducted through paper mail by an unknown party who represented themselves as an employee of an international financial company. This party advised the now “victim” that they were the next of kin in a dormant account held by this financial institution in the name of a family member and provided a copy of a death certificate. A total of 7 wire transfers were conducted, all over $10,000. These amounts were described as necessary “fees” or “value added taxes.” Documents such as “applications to transfer funds” are provided and made to appear to be legitimate, yet have no legal significance. All advance fee scams share one basic thing in common- they require the victim to give something now in order to secure a right to something relatively large in the future. The people behind the scams often attempt to mimic government documents or emails, legitimate corporations, popular websites and the like. Another popular scam includes the sending of false insurance checks with letter from prominent companies claiming bigger settlement is on the horizon only after depositing the initial payment.

Prevention Tips:

Learn to recognize the signs of advance fee fraud:
-Payment is requested in advance
-Payment is much smaller than the promises payoff- almost incidental

Signs of email frauds in general:
-The email is unsolicited
-The tone, grammar, and overall style of the emails are noticeably less polished and professional than expected from a reputable, established corporation
-The offer seems to good too be true
-The situation described seems bizarre or unlikely

What to do if you think an offer matching any of these characteristics might be genuine:
-Contact the Better Business Bureau to investigate the company
-If the company seems legitimate, look up the company’s phone number in a phone book (do not use contact information given to you in the email!) and call to verify
-Have the company send you relevant documentation to verify the offer through the mail
-Verify the information independently

What to do if you believe that you may have fallen prey to an advance fee fraud:
-Contact your bank immediately
-Notify the Police Department

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