Fraud Fighters Forum helps Iowans detect scammers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fraud Fighters Forum helps Iowans detect scammers

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) - Be alert, state officials say: Iowans can expect more scammers calling them this fall.

That comes as the Health Insurance Marketplace open enrollment period begins in mid-November.

The Iowa Attorney General's office and the Iowa Insurance Division are trying to train fraud fighters. Through a statewide tour, they're showing Iowans -- especially older Iowans -- how to detect, reject and report scams.

One of those forums took place Thursday afternoon at Dubuque's Grand River Center.

Lois Denlinger, a victim of fraud, attended the event. She said she started getting calls about six months ago from a phone number registered in Jamaica.

"I keep telling him, 'It's a scam, it's a scam,'" Denlinger said, recounting her phone conversation with the man from Jamaica. "'Oh, no, no, it's real, you won this money,' (he says). 'Then give it to me!' is what I keep saying to him."

Denlinger said the man tells her she has won $3.5 million and a new Mercedes Benz.

This Dubuque woman has lost $15 so far, paying $5 to send a $10 money transfer to the man. She's on a fixed income, so every dollar counts.

The man, in return, has sent her two checks: one for $3.5 million and the other for $1,000. Her bank wouldn't cash either check and warned Denlinger about fraud.

It's that ordeal that brought her to Thursday's Iowa Fraud Fighting Forum, along with nearly 200 other people.

Iowa attorney general Tom Miller spoke, telling people if they catch wind of a scam -- no matter how big or small -- to report it to his office or the Iowa Insurance Division.

He said scams can come by phone, Internet, mail and even in person, and older Iowans tend to be at a greater risk.

"They've worked hard and they do have some money," Miller said of older Iowans. "There's 'Iowa Nice' and 'Iowa - sort of - Believability' that people take advantage of. You know, (older) people have time at their homes to get the calls."

He asks Iowans to be on guard and protect their savings.

That's why Denlinger doesn't plan on sending any more money to this man in Jamaica, even though he's now telling her he'll deliver the Mercedes Benz if she sends $50.

"It's unbelievable. Why would they do that?" Denlinger said of the scammers.

In most cases of fraud, Miller said, once that money is gone, it's nearly impossible to get back. That's why being cautious and able to detect and say "no" to scams is much easier than trying to fight to get dollars back.

State officials encourage Iowans to be "OK" with saying "no" and hanging up on a scammer. They also encourage people to regularly monitor their investments and bank accounts.

More information on Iowa Fraud Fighters is HERE: http://www.iowafraudfighters.gov/
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