GREENSBORO, N.C. — A great-grandmother in Greensboro wants people to be aware of a scam because she almost fell for it. She says it’s not the first time it’s happened.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says scammers think senior citizens are easy prey.
North Carolina ranks No. 5 in total losses by victims per state. That’s not referring to older adults specifically, but they do make up a big percentage of the victims.
73-year-old Jackqulyn, who didn’t want to share her last name, or show her face on camera, gave FOX8 documents showing the latest scam that came in her mailbox.
It was in priority mail envelope.
“Who in their right mind is going to send you a $1,967 check when you haven’t done anything?” she said.
Inside, a hefty check made out to Jackqulyn and some simple, but odd instructions to buy a bunch of gift cards from different stores.
“They say you’re not supposed to tell anybody about this because it’s supposed to be a secret,” she said. “It’s like that secret shopping thing.”
But something didn’t seem right.
“My daughter knew there were a lot of scams going on and she said, ‘Mom, I think this needs to be checked out,'” Jackqulyn said.
So she called the bank and she was right.
“They took all of the information down, the numbers and everything off of this check. They said it was no good,” she said.
This isn’t the first time the 73-year-old has almost fallen victim to a scam.
“There was another scam where they wanted you to spend so much of your money and send them information and they were going to pay you and reimburse you,” she said.
As Jackqulyn gets older, she gets wiser.
“I think they target most of the elderly,” she said. I’m on alert for anything like this that comes in the mail.”
FOX8 sat down with U.S. Attorney Matt Martin. He says these scams are more common than you may think.
“It’s a big problem. Over $3 billion a year has been taken from the elderly on these fraudulent means,” he said.
It doesn’t always come by mail.
Martin says it can be done by telephone, over the internet and even in person.
The FBI and U.S. Department of Justice are doing their best to stop it.
“We’re educating, but we’re also prosecuting,” Martin said. “We’re putting people in jail for this type of fraud.”
But they need help.
“Reporting is so important. If a telephone is ringing in your house, it could be ringing in many others,” he said. “That’s when we start to see patterns.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and AARP are having an event Monday, Aug. 19, at the Shepherd’s Center in Winston-Salem from 1-3 p.m.
At the event, they will answer questions and give provide tips to prevent this from happening.