2012-10-31 / Local & State

Beware Of Cash Scams

Three reported to local PSP station in three weeks
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz


Local residents are being advised to be wary of phone solicitations and letters involving cash prizes and schemes requiring money to be sent to foreign countries.

During the last two weeks, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Eric Bartlett of the McConnellsburg barracks has been called to investigate a trio of scams involving money and the elderly. Noting these types of situations tend to start cropping up this time of year, Bartlett said oftentimes the cases are referred to the state attorney general’s office for further investigation based on out-of-state and even out-of-country involvement.

According to the trooper, a Taylor Township man reported receiving multiple telephone calls trying to sell him something or solicit money. The caller provided a name and phone number where he could be reached, and the area man, realizing it was a scam, turned the information over to the authorities. The number and name, Bartlett said, were traced to a deceased man in neighboring Huntingdon County, who is survived at home by his wife.

Fortunately, no money was exchanged as was also the case in a recent sweepstakes scam letter sent to a Warfordsburg area woman. The letter dated October 11 from Capital Allocation Inc., allegedly based in New York, was followed up by a telephone call asking the woman if she had received the mailing.

Familiar with scams due to an incident dating back to 2009, the local woman told the caller she knew the USA/Europe Sweepstakes offering her a cash prize of $250,000 was nothing more than a scam, Bartlett said. The caller reportedly asked her not to contact the police, which she did.

The letter now in the possession of Trooper Bartlett outlines how the woman was to redeem an enclosed check totalling $3,820 to cover taxes, insurance, handling and shipping fees. After also beginning the claim process by contacting company agents, she could eventually claim the remainder of her winnings. The letter further instructs the recipient to “avoid fraud and payment to the wrong person” by keeping the process strictly confidential.

Bartlett said in many instances an individual will be told the company overpaid them and are asked to send a portion of the money back through a check or money order.

Unfortunately, a pair of money orders were recently sent overseas via Western Union by a Big Cove Tannery woman who was scammed out of $400 in total. Bartlett said the woman was informed that in order to receive a $3,000 cash advance she was required to send a $200 deposit.

After getting help from employees at the local Giant Food Store on how to send money via Western Union, the deposit was sent to Miriam Cacmio in the Philippines at 3:32 p.m. on October 19.

The caller in the case was an alleged Ernest Samuel, who claimed to be based out of California. Several hours later Samuel would contact the woman and inform her the money had not been transferred. The woman then sent a second deposit of $200 to Cacmio. The scenario went on for some time, Bartlett said, with the man continuing to hound and harass the woman over the phone.

In the majority of instances, the elderly or those living alone or recently widowed are being targeted and preyed on, stated Bartlett. He asks residents to remain cautious and remember the old adage, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”

Residents are further instructed to get as much information as they can obtain from any callers and to follow up with questions. Often times, the caller will keep repeating the same come on and abruptly hang up after being asked too many questions, Bartlett said. Furthermore, money should never, ever be sent overseas or to an alleged individual or business, even if multiple letters or harassing calls are received.

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