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Beware of The Latest Scams

What started as a frantic cry for help turned into a big scam that wiped out a Springs woman's savings.

Another woman was convinced she had won millions... instead she lost thousands.

Here's a look at what tricks the crooks are using to try to rip you off.

Picture this: Grandmother and granddaughter, working side by side in the kitchen making homemade jam and trying to put a nasty incident behind them.
A few weeks ago the phone rang and Marcie Stelzer assumed the hysterical girl on the other end was her granddaughter, Becca.

Marcie says, "I was so convinced that... I can still hear the voice. I never heard Becca that distraught, you know and crying like that when she was talking."

Marcie later talked to a man she was told was a police officer. He told her that Becca was in jail in Canada and needed $5,700 wired to an international bailbondsman. Then later an extra $2,700 was needed to cover attorney fees.

Marcie thought she couldn't contact Becca, that her cell phone had been confiscated. And, she made a promise not to discuss the matter with Becca's parents till Becca could tell them first.

Of course, Marcie soon learned Becca wasn't in trouble at all. In fact, she never left Colorado Springs, which meant crooks had just swindled the family out of $8,400.

Marcie adds, "Everything just seemed so real. That I didn't question it."

"I can't believe people would do that. I mean my Grandma's completely broke, you know. And it's caused issues in our family... just her not telling my parents and stuff," says Becca.

So what are others getting scammed by?

A sweepstakes offers sitting in her mailbox got another Colorado Springs woman in trouble.

Kathryn Young was completely convinced she had won millions.
First she had to wire a handling fee, then it was a tax, next it was a commission.

The list went on and on, until $5,000 later, she knew she had been scammed.

Kathryn says, "The last two months have been very hard and then I had to have my car fixed.... I had to piecemeal it altogether and let a lot of other bills go."

Kathryn's daughter, Christine is helping to get her phone number changed because the crooks started hassling her, impersonating cops and FBI agents.

"I go through her cell phone, 100 calls in less than 30 days... a hundred and there's 20 different phone numbers they're calling from," says Christine.

Michael Flanagan, an agent with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Colorado Springs says, "Once they respond they're almost on the hook and they're going to continue to be contacted again and again and again."

Flanagan has investigated numerous telemarketing schemes. He says one common thread: money is wired to a stranger. He says crooks use wire services because they're just like cash and transactions are hard to reverse or trace.

He says telemarketing fraud cost Americans one billion dollars last year with money going to crooks in Canada, Jamaica and even the U.S.

"We have had previous instances, particularly in Montreal, Canada that have linked these organizations to a lot of motorcycle gangs, the Hells Angels, particularly," says Flanagan.

Flanagan says beware of any correspondence you get from a stranger in the mail, over the phone, or through an e-mail.

He also says if you're told to keep it a secret - that's your cue to check it out first.

Remember, these crooks are very sophisticated and know all the tricks.

Flanagan also says crooks use the Internet to make their phone calls so they're hard to trace. They also pay flunkies to pick up their cash from Western Union so they aren't the ones targeted by police.


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