By Jason Setre
Fillmore County Newspaper
Did you see the story reported in the August 16, 2022 issue of Post-Bulletin about a 65-year-old woman and a 69-year-old man in Rochester, Minnesota, who wired over $300,000 of their life savings into an online fraud case? Police reported that the woman called a phone number she thought was Microsoft’s because their computer had crashed. Following this phone call, someone posing as the US Marshal’s office called her and told her that her savings account had been hacked and her money was in danger. The woman made four wire transfers totaling $303,000 of her savings.
Ripped off. Faded away. Fly.
It happens more and more.
A few months ago, a conversation took place in the office of the Fillmore County Newspaper, in which we discussed all the scams we have heard of lately. Almost everyone on our team had received a scam via email, text or phone call. It seems the scammers have been busier than usual trying to scam people out of money.
Michelle Quanrud, who is the website administrator of the Fillmore County Newspaper and as General Manager of SMG Web Design, highlighted an opportunity to serve the public. She wondered if we could work with local law enforcement to share these scams with the public as they spread through our local market.
So we’ve scheduled a meeting with Fillmore County Sheriff John DeGeorge, Capt. Phillip Whitacre and Detective Sergeant Dan Dornink to discuss a possible collaboration between our news agency and local law enforcement. During our meeting, we learned that the scams we encountered were just the tip of the iceberg.
Many people have been abused in our area. There were all sorts of scams we had never heard of, and our local friends and neighbors got caught up in these scams – sending money for more.
We are talking about large sums of money.
Of course, almost everyone has heard stories of how some grandparents have received a phone call from someone stating that their grandchild has been detained by Mexican police and that they urgently need funds to release their grandchild from prison.
The scenarios seem endless. And, since most of these scams are administered by someone in another country, they are rarely caught and, if so, minimally punished. Thus, they continue to target victims in multiplicity.
They are pretty sharp when it comes to scams. And technology has enhanced their predatory potential. It’s a shame they don’t use their ambition for something constructive.
During our conversation, we discussed how we can help educate the public about these scams and how this needs to be done on a regular basis. We cannot just share these scams intermittently. It must be an ongoing initiative. The reality is that these scammers are constantly adapting their approach, which means we need to be on constant alert.
The one thing Sheriff DeGeorge shared is that our local banks have been at the forefront of protecting against consumer fraud. They pay attention to irregular bank account activity and work with their customers to stop fraudulent transactions as quickly as possible.
So it seemed natural for us to partner with local banks that make consumer financial protection a priority.
Thanks to the support of the following community banks, every week the Fillmore County Newspaper will release a feature called “Scam Alert”.
• Bremer Bank
• First southeast bank –
Canton & Harmony
• First Fountain State Bank
• First State Bank of Minnesota
• Investment bank
• New Albin savings bank
• Root River State Bank
• State Bank of Rushford
Readers can look for the Scam Alert feature located in this newspaper’s police reports each week starting with today’s issue.
If you think you or someone you know may be the victim of a scam, please contact your local sheriff’s office. The phone number for the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office is (507) 765-3874. The phone number for the Houston County Sheriff’s Office is (507) 725-3379 ext. 4101. The phone number for the Mower County Sheriff’s Office is (507) 437-9400.