WAUKESHA - For several weeks Stacy Niven of Waukesha
heard her phone ring repeatedly. She looked at the caller ID and
noticed a 888 number. One day she picked up the receiver and there
was a person with an accent on the line. The person mentioned a
computer in her household that was producing errors and needed to be
Little did the caller know that Niven has been in IT
for 20 years. She cut the person off and knew it was a scam.
Niven allowed her three children to listen to the
conversations so they understood the types of scams they might
encounter. She said, “When receiving an email, make sure you use the
mouse to hover over the name of the sender. That will tell you where
the email is coming from and if it is really from a sender such as
Microsoft or company you do business with.”
Niven has also had calls from people claiming to be
from her bank. She said people should always tell the caller they
will call them back and ask for the number. She said, “If it is a
scam, they will hang up.”
Scott Klaas, a real estate agent with Keller Williams
Realty in New Berlin, has dealt with scams in his work. He has had
homes that were for sale show up online as being for rent by someone
other than the actual owner.
He said, “It starts out with posts on Craigslist.
Someone is out of the country on a church mission and has to rent
their house as soon as possible. They can’t meet since they are out
of the country. The house would normally rent for $1,500 to $2,000,
but they will rent it out for $600-$800. They ask the person to send
them a security deposit and that they will mail out the key.”
If people are trying to secure out of state housing,
they may fall for this.
Klaas said real estate agents often monitor sites
like Zillow and Craigslist to be on alert. Clients will call the
police and call the agent about the posting. They then contact the
Internet site to take it down. The bad part is it is often
untraceable and once people report it, the scam artists go on to a
Klaas said although such scams don’t come up very
often, people should still question if something seems too good to
Send us money
Delafield Police Chief Erik Kehl has noticed reports
of calls indicating a person owes money and must wire money from
Walmart. He said residents also receive calls saying they have to
pay a bill and still owe money.
In another scam, a grandchild is in jail and the
victim needs to pay a certain amount to bail them out. In his
experience it is always a simple formula: “Send us money because
Kehl has noticed scams run in streaks and no reports
have come up recently for his department. He said, “Around tax time
we were getting hammered with reports of IRS scams. We do have the
technology and people to track down where it is coming from but it
ends up being overseas, which there is not much we can do with
He suggests residents confirm and question
everything. He said, “OK, you are fixing my computer but I didn’t
give you permission. For the jailed grandchild, ask for a number to
call them back, then call the parent or grandchild.” He said the
police won’t call asking to collect money by wiring through Walmart
or a third party.
Kehl said people should always be aware but be
especially mindful during holidays, since scammers prey on busy
people. During the holiday season people just want to take care of
things quickly. Because people are juggling 20 different things,
they can fall victim to scamming schemes, he said.
Kehl pointed out that the elderly are most preyed on.
He is not saying they are gullible or prone to make mistakes; he
feels everyone is vulnerable.
“I think they really care,” he said. “If they get a
call saying their grandchild is in trouble or danger they will try
to help them. The criminals are preying on that emotional conflict.”
Lisa Schiller, director of investigations and media
relations of the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin, said people
can check on companies and charities throughout the U.S. and Canada
for free on www.bbb.org. They can also post a review (positive,
negative, or neutral) or file a complaint, report a scam or suggest