Scams victimize the elderly

OKEECHOBEE — Recent scams may be different in how they are presented, but they all have one thing in common — they separated three elderly citizens from their money.

According to Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) reports the three local people lost $3,000.

In the first OCSO report, a local woman fell victim to a real estate scam and lost $1,950.
According to Deputy Timothy Porter’s report, the 82-year-old woman was contacted by a man calling himself Henry Storm. Storm told the woman he was calling in regard to some property she had listed for sale in Las Vegas, Nev.

Storm told his victim he was from United Timeshare Closings and had a buyer for her property.

He then told the woman to send $950 via Western Union to an Isfrael Perez Roa in the Dominican Republic.

“He is supposedly a sales rep for the company,” noted Deputy Porter.

The victim did as she was instructed and on Monday, Aug. 24, sent Roa the $950. She was then instructed to send Roa $1,000 the next day, Aug. 25.

“According to Storm the money (was) needed to transfer the deed and legal fees,” stated the deputy’s report.

“I attempted to contact Storm via the number provided — 702-516-0173 — to me by the (woman). Storm would not answer me or return my call,” stated Deputy Porter.

Publishers Clearing House scam

Deputy Miller also worked another scam on Friday, Aug. 21, in which an 86-year-old woman was supposedly contacted by the Publishers Clearing House about sending them money in order for her to collect her winnings.

“They asked her repeatedly for $900,” stated the deputy’s report.

Finally, she gave in and sent a Money Gram to a Fernando Alsonso Contreras. The destination only read Florida, pointed out the deputy.

“(She) also said she was told the individuals would be coming to her home to deliver a Mercedes vehicle she won,” stated the report. “At the time of this report she had not received a Mercedes.”

She also received an email from an address she didn’t know. The address — shaniebell.11@gmail.com — stated an Okeechobee Florida Border Protection and Inspection Officer was requesting information from her.

She was told to call 876-505-3180 to speak to an officer. That area code is in Jamaica and has long been associated with different scams.

“I told (her) she should stop sending money to these individuals, and ignore those types of emails and any phone calls claiming to represent them,” Deputy Miller stated.

The deputy also told her to contact the sheriff’s office if any of these people darken her doorstep.

Facebook scam

OCSO Deputy Daniel Eng took an Aug. 21 report from a man who had fallen victim to a scam on the popular social media site, Facebook.

The 72-year-old man explained to the deputy that he had been contacted on the social media site by a couple of people who he thought were old friends. One of those “friends” told him he could possibly win a lot of money and that he needed to talk to a woman by the name of Rose Mary Jones to collect his winnings.

The “friend” then told him he needed to pay the shipping cost, which was $500. The man told his purported friend he didn’t have that kind of money, so he was told to send $150.

Deputy Eng documented how the victim wired $100 to Jones, then another $50 to Jones the next day.

The deputy then stated in his report that as he was speaking with the elderly man, the scam victim realized “… the person or persons that did this to him must not have been who the Facebook name suggested they were.”

If you think you have been contacted by a scammer, call your local law enforcement agency immediately. If you live in the city, call the police department at 863-763-5521. If you live in the county, call the sheriff’s office at 863-763-3117.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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