MOUNT VERNON — Knox County senior citizens are once again being targeted by scam artists. The News has learned of at least three individuals who have been contacted by a bogus “family” member asking for money.
“I have received a second call,” said Lela Ewart. “Both times the caller claimed to be my grandson. He sounded very sincere and convincing and gave a lot of details. He said he had an accident in the Dominican Republic. He told me all about the accident: They had been to a wedding where he [supposed grandson] had consumed one drink of champagne. Coming home he rear-ended another car and broke his nose and has stitches in his cheek. But he’s in jail because they did an alcohol test and he didn’t pass it. He wants out of jail. He said, ‘Now, Grandma, I’ve got the money in my savings account at home and I’ll pay you the minute I get back to the States.’ He told me to go to Western Union and send him $2,800, and he even knows where they are at in Mount Vernon. He gave me a lawyer’s name and an address to send the money to. ... People need to be aware that this is happening.”
Knox County Prosecutor John Thatcher said that scams, along with residential burglaries, are the top concerns reported by senior citizens. He said anyone receiving suspicious calls should call his or her local law enforcement agency as soon as possible.
“Call them immediately,” Thatcher said. “The sooner it is reported, the better. Give them all the information you can, the phone number, names and any addresses you get. But don’t send any money.”
To help seniors avoid becoming a victim, the county has formed TRIAD, a senior citizen’s crime prevention group. Comprised of representatives from all the county law enforcement agencies, senior citizens and people who work with senior citizens, TRIAD meets the second Thursday of every month at 2 p.m. at The Station Break.
“The whole idea,” said Thatcher, “is to open up a dialogue with law enforcement and seniors so that law enforcement can educate seniors on how to avoid becoming victims. And seniors can tell law enforcement what their concerns are. We are really hoping to get more senior citizens to participate.”