PETALUMA – The Petaluma Police Department (PPD) has issued an advisory to the public about a recent flurry of phone scams. In the last few days the PPD took reports for a variety of telephone based con jobs.
The scams involve the supposed collection of late bill payments to PG&E and county property taxes. Another con purported to be connected to the collection of winnings for Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes.
In each case victims were instructed to pay by purchasing debit type cards that can be found at 7-Elevens or other convenience type stores. The cards are also know as “green” or “vanilla” cards for which victims can load up to $500 per card. A unique card number is obtained, which unaware victims had then provided to the suspect(s) over the telephone. One victim had sent a total of $3,600 for her supposed late property taxes.
The sweepstakes scammers told the victim(s) that they had won a prize, but that it had went to Mexico and that they would have to pay a fee of $1500 to ensure that they would collect the winnings of $600,000. Although one victim had suspected the scam, and told the suspect that they were going to call police, the suspect convinced the victim that they would also call the police. The suspect called the victim back saying that they had spoken with the police department and that everything was fine. The victim then went ahead and sent the $1,500. The suspects then attempted to get another $36,000 from the victims.
The PPD advises that the primary targets of these scams are elderly citizens. If you suspect any scam, don’t send money. Call the police department number in the phone book, and not one provided by a suspicious caller.