Phone scam offer really is too good to be true
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Donald and Laurine Ford passed up a trip to Orlando, Fla., last Friday ” and that’s just fine with them.
Now, the Glenwood Springs couple wants to alert other local residents to a phone scam that could hit unsuspecting victims.
“If people, and especially seniors, read about this, maybe we can protect them from being taken advantage of,” said Donald “Rusty” Ford.
Rusty said he received a telephone call about 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20. A man identified himself as “Mike from Universal Studios” and told Rusty his “badge number” was 0126.
Mike explained how Rusty’s wife had entered a contest “at the mall” two months ago for a trip for two to Orlando, Fla. ” and that her name had been drawn.
“He told me we won a three-day, two-night Orlando vacation at the Comfort Inn Suites with passes to Universal Studios,” Rusty said. “He also said we won $500 worth of discount coupons.”
But Rusty was skeptical.
“We didn’t fall off the turnip truck last night,” he said. Besides, Laurine told Rusty she hadn’t entered a contest like the one described.
At that point, both Rusty and Laurine got on the line with Mike, and told him they weren’t interested.
“The more we said ‘no’ the better it got,” said Rusty.
Mike told the Fords that they’d also won three more nights in Cocoa Beach, Fla., at the Hilton. When the Fords told him again they weren’t interested, Mike added another vacation: five days and four nights in Cancun, Mexico.
Mike said the only thing he needed was the couple’s credit card number to charge $249 apiece for plane tickets.
“He said to us, ‘Would Universal Studios cheat you?'” Rusty said. “He told us we were safe and protected. I kept telling him, ‘What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?'”
Rusty told Mike that he would need to have notification of winning the contest in writing.
“He didn’t like that at all,” said Rusty.
So instead, Mike added a bonus to the Fords’ “winnings.”
“He said the prize included two more people of our choice joining us on our vacation,” Rusty said.
Finally, Rusty and Laurine hung up on Mike ” and immediately contacted the Glenwood Springs police department to report the bogus call.
Glenwood Springs police lieutenant Bill Kimminau said the Fords’ report was the only one the department has received as of last Friday. He said it’s been less than six months since other telephone scams have been reported locally, and that typically scams like this go in spurts and then die off.
Kimminau said it’s hard to know how many phone scams are out there. Some people may receive calls and not report them. But he said it’s a big problem.
“This kind of scam is a multi-million dollar enterprise,” Kimminau said. “It’s as serious as identity theft.”
Kimminau said that although credit card companies and banks often protect customers from scam artists illegally racking up charges or cleaning out bank accounts once they get someone else’s credit or debit card number, it’s getting more difficult for victims to collect because of increases of this type of crime.
“That’s why it’s so important to protect your financial information,” Kimminau said.
Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518
avoid phone scams
Glenwood Springs police lieutenant Bill Kimminau said if it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true. His tips on avoiding phone scams:
– Never give your credit card or debit card numbers over the phone if someone calls you announcing you’ve won a prize or a contest.
– Tell the caller you’re busy and ask for their phone number so you can call them back. If the phone call is bogus, the caller will usually hang up or give you an incorrect number.
– Remember that if a contest is legitimate, there is no reason to give out personal financial information.
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