Personal mail fraud emerges locally

Mail fraud has become more commonplace, and these scams can originate from anywhere in the world. A recent example that was brought to the attention of The Standard involves a letter from TD Canada Trust Bank that informed an area resident that a distant relative had passed away and that as the lone traceable next of kin, they are the beneficiary of $9.2 million.
The letter explained that the deceased's account has been dormant and a quick response is required or the funds will revert back as unclaimed estate at the quickly approaching end of the dormancy period. An e-mail address and name were provided at the bottom of the letter requesting more follow up from the recipient.

Waukon Police Chief Phil Young advises residents to approach all matters such as this letter with skepticism and caution. Young suggests anyone receiving a phone call, e-mail or letter describing an inheritance or lottery winnings to contact their financial advisor or lawyer to help verify the legitimacy of the source if they question whether it is a scam. Young further advises that these types of letters should be sent by certified mail and if not, that should be an immediate red flag that it is not legitimate. He said the Allamakee County Sheriff's Office Dispatch Center receives two to three fraud reports daily.

Chief Young advises residents to be mindful of telephone scams as well, saying the elderly are commonly preyed upon with fraudulent phone calls where someone claiming to be a relative that needs money sent or wired to a location out of state or internationally. These scenarios vary, but often the caller claims to need money to be bailed out of jail or for an emergency. Young suggests verifying with other relatives that the caller is who they claim to be and, in fact, is located where the funds are to be sent. He says fraudulent money transfers have been traced locally to multiple foreign countries, where there is no recourse to return the funds.