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Fraud cases targeting the elderly are happening at an alarming rate in SE Minnesota

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Olmsted County Sheriff 1.jpg

OLMSTED COUNTY, Minn. - Just how prevalent are fraud cases around the area? The Olmsted County Sheriff's Office offered a glimpse of that Tuesday by releasing some recent cases, including one where a man sent $350K to a woman he met on an online dating service. 

"The Sheriff’s Office and Olmsted County Adult Protection would like to remind those with elderly family members or friends to watch how they are managing their money. Not only those who are vulnerable adults but others living alone, lonely, or depressed can fall for the smooth conversation of a con man," the sheriff's office said.

Here's a look at some of the recent cases. 

  • 1. A Byron man sending about $350,000.00 to a woman who is believed to live in Denmark (unknown if true). The woman relayed a story of owning a hotel in Africa and needing money to get it back in to working order. The victim sent the money is 15 separate actions. Reported by victim’s financial institute. He connected with the woman on Match.com.
  • 2) A Stewartville woman sending $5,000.00 believing she won the Publisher’s Clearing House lottery and needed to pay to receive her winnings. She was prepared to send $150,000.00. Reported by victim’s bank and family notified.
  • 3) A Byron man sent about $80,000.00 to receive lottery winnings after being contacted on the phone. Payments were supposedly for taxes and IRS fees. Reported by victim’s bank.
  • 4) An Eyota man lost payments totaling $7,200.00 to a company claiming to provide utility services. Reported by victim’s bank.
  • 5) An Eyota man reported losing $4,000.00 by sending gift cards to a person claiming to be representing AT+T and Direct TV.
  • 6) A Stewartville area woman sent $9,000.00 over the last year to a man she met on a hangout app. The man told her he was trying to leave the U.K. but couldn’t.
  • 7) A Rochester woman lost $20,000.00 and another $20,00.00 was held up by Fed Ex, after she allowed two men to access her computer and bank account. The men “hid” money in her account and told her she needed to send the cash to them.

The Olmsted County Sheriff's Office is warning residents - con artists are out in full force - trying to trick people out of their money.

The sheriff's office tells KIMT News 3 they usually see one or two fraud cases a month. But over the last month, there's been a huge increase - about 10 to 12 cases of people handing over large sums of money.

A number of these cases involve criminals trying to trick elderly residents out of their money. 

These victims are being contacted through the internet, phone, and mail. 

Deputies say with people spending more time at home, they are spending more time online - in turn giving crooks more targets. 

Lieutenant Lee Rossman says if it seems too good to be true - it's probably something to be wary of. 

He says common frauds include asking the victim to send out gift cards.

Banks are also fighting these cons by holding payments or stopping checks.

If you're worried about an older relative becoming a victim - you might consider getting a conservatorship or a power of attorney to monitor their financial transactions.

“Sit down with them, explain to them, you may get these phone calls - you may get an online message, whatever you do don't send money,” Rossman advises. 

He adds the likelihood of getting money back in these fraud cases is rare - so to be aware.

“It's hard to investigate and identify these people and where that money goes, with so many people involved in some of these scams, once that money goes out it's rare that we get it recovered,” he explains. 

If you need assistance or tips for recognizing online swindles - you can contact Olmsted County Sheriff's Crime Prevention Office or Adult Protection offices.