Police warn of financial scams targeting elderly


Two recent money-making scam attempts targeting elderly South County residents have prompted Morgan Hill police to issue a warning to the community, with some simple advice to avoid being victimized.

“Deals that sound too good to be true usually are,” Morgan Hill police Sgt. Troy Hoefling said in a press release. “They are mostly a scam in disguise.” 

On Tuesday, a Morgan Hill man reportedly received a phone call from a male suspect who advised him he had won a new car and a $2.5 million prize, Hoefling said. The suspect told the man that in order to claim the prize, he would have to send $10,000 to a specific bank account number. The would-be victim did not fall for the scam, and told the caller he did not want to accept the prize, and hence he did not send any money. 

In November 2012, a San Martin woman received a letter in the mail informing her that she was the recipient of a $26.7 million inheritance from a deceased relative in Spain, police said. The letter said in order to receive the inheritance, the woman had to send more than $50,000 in personal checks to a male suspect living in Banning. After giving up more than $50,000, the woman was later told to send another $140,000 to a different male suspect in North Carolina. 

The victim’s bank contacted police with concerns the victim was being ripped off, and the bank stopped payment before the $140,000 check was cashed, Hoefling said. 

Similar scams happen “all the time,” Hoefling said, but often the elderly victims do not report the crimes to authorities or family members out of fear of embarrassment, or because they are confused. 

Police think the elderly residents are targeted due to their trusting nature. In addition to being taken advantage of, the victims become upset due to their fixed incomes and the fact the money they lose is almost impossible to recover. 

“If you are approached by a stranger offering to give you large sums of money in exchange for a lesser amount, you should decline the offer and call your local police department immediately,” the press release said. 

Authorities also caution residents to avoid giving out their personal information to anyone who calls with such offers. 

Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of a scam can contact Morgan Hill Detective Scott Martin at (408) 779-2101 or the anonymous tip line at (408) 947-7867.