If a phone call seems too good to be true, it might be a scam.
In Ocala, an 87-year-old Fairfield Village resident recently fell for a phone scam in which a caller claimed the resident won $3.5 million and a Mercedes-Benz. The caller then pressured the resident to first pay money in order to receive his prize.
By the time the Marion County Sheriff’s Office was notified, the victim had already wired more than $10,000 to a stranger in Sunrise, Fla.
Don’t trust emails, letters or phone calls from people saying you’ve won something but must send money first, Marion County Sheriff Chris Blair said in a news release.
Delete and block the email address, throw away the letter or hang up the phone, Blair said. Do not open any attachments from scammers via email.
Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Art Forgey said scams are reported at least once a week.
“We’ve seen several different types,” he said.
Scams can include anything from phone calls to emails to fake bank account notifications, Forgey said.
Scams typically target the elderly because scammers often claim the potential victim’s family members are in trouble and need money, he said.
Alachua County alone sees about 50 to 75 reported scam victims per year who wire money to cons. Some go unreported because elderly victims don’t want to lose their independence or admit to falling for a scam.
“I get those (calls) on my work phone all the time,” Forgey said.
If a scammer contacts you, Forgey said to log onto the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov. If you’ve been a victim of a scam, call your local law enforcement agency.