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Marteny: Utility company scam targeted at local residents
On March 15, a senior resident of Kelowna was targeted by two fraudsters who pretended to be utility company employees.
The woman, who was at her residence in the 600 block of Lexington Drive in the Mission, was told that her gas meter needed to be replaced and that the cost was $400 cash in advance. The feisty lady became immediately suspicious and closed the door on them, saying she would call the gas company that the scammers claimed to be representing. This was the right thing to do.
When the gas company rep was told what had happened, he assured the woman that the two were not company employees, and that the company would never conduct business in that manner. The representative then called police to report the incident.
Police are investigating the incident, but they ask anyone who has experienced a similar incident, whether money was lost or not, to call the RCMP with any information that could lead to the apprehension of the suspects.
In this particular case, the lucky senior did not lose her money, but sadly those who tried to dupe her will likely not stop in their attempts to part others from their hard earned money.
The targeting of seniors and the elderly by morally bereft individuals is reprehensible. In extreme circumstances, some victims are left virtually penniless and find it nearly impossible to cope with the loss.
It is important for seniors to know that everyone who writes, calls, or comes to the door with a goal of getting money from them under uncomfortable circumstances should be considered suspicious.
Time must be taken and questions asked before deciding whether a solicitation is genuine or fraudulent.
A simple acronym, SCAM, may help:
S—Safe. If you give in to one of these frauds, would you be worse off for having done it?
C—Credible. Does the person, who is trying to convince you, have any credibility that can be verified?
A—Aggressive. Is the scammer using an aggressive tactic, or language, that requires an immediate or imperative response?
M—Motive. Is their motive to deprive you of money or assets (banking information), with a promise of reward?
The important thing to remember is this; you can always hang up the phone, tear up the letter or close the door in order to protect your money.
For further information, contact Kelowna RCMP Cost. Steve Holmes at 250-470-6361.
Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for seniors in Kelowna.