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I-Team: Scams targeting elderly ramping up, how to spot a scam and protect yourself

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — State police are issuing a scam alert after an 84-year-old Luzerne woman was conned out of more than $12,000.  

Troopers say con artists are ramping up scams targeting the elderly. They say these scammers are relentless and will keep calling an unsuspecting target until they get what they want, which may be money or your personal information.

“But they’re very smooth. They can talk you out of anything and that’s what he kept doing,” the scam victim told the I-Team.

The 84-year-old woman was victimized by telephone scammers. She was taken for $12,500 dollars by purchasing gift cards for the con artist.

“I know they called me and said he was from a certain agency and he said in order to protect my assets, whatever I have, I should give gift cards. I said ‘what happens to the money?’ He said they just hold it and I bought it hook line and sinker,” she said.

The woman did not want to be identified out of concern for her safety but she wanted to tell her story so as to possible help other people avoid being scammed.

“Don’t tell anybody is your first thing remember, don’t do that. Don’t do what he tells you to do and to tell someone. That was my first mistake not telling,” she said.

“These people that do these scams are very good at talking. They want to keep you talking and they want to keep you on the phone, develop a rapport with you, then ask you for money, cash apps and gift card information,” State Police Trooper Anthony Petroski said.

Investigators say these scammers will use every trick in the book to lure you in.

“If you don’t know somebody that you are talking to on the phone, don’t feel pressured to give into anything or give out personal information, social security number, especially not gift cards,” Petroski said.

The woman says she learned a valuable lesson, even at age 84.

“It was like I was walking in a fog. I didn’t even think you know or care whatever, they were very good,” she said.

State troopers say that many times these scammers operate out of state or even the country, which makes it a challenge to track them down. They say the best defense against these scams is a good offense.

Be proactive and be aware they are out there and anybody can be a target.

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