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March 5, 2015

BISMARCK, ND – Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem joins federal, state and local organizations in recognizing the annual National Consumer Protection Week, which runs through March 7, 2015.

“This week is a good time to remind North Dakota residents to be skeptical about phone calls or messages requiring urgent action,” said Stenehjem, who said the state’s residents are being inundated with scam telephone calls. He warned that scam artists are specifically targeting the state’s senior population, finding new victims with scams that have been circulating for many years.

“Unfortunately, despite repeated warnings about these scams, we receive reports every week from victims, many of whom have lost hundreds of dollars. Almost without exception, the recent victims have been older North Dakotans,” said Parrell Grossman, director of the Consumer Protection Division.  

Stenehjem says the four most prevalent scams in North Dakota are:

  1. The Grandparent scam, involving an imposter grandchild who is supposedly involved in a crisis situation and urgently needs cash;
  2. IRS Enforcement scam, in which phony IRS agents claim there is a problem with a previously filed tax return and threaten the victim with arrest unless the tax debt is paid immediately.
  3. The Sweepstakes Winner scam, where the not-so-lucky victim has allegedly won a prize, often in an overseas lottery drawing, but has to send some cash before the big payout can be awarded. This scam is commonly known as the “Jamaican Scam.”
  4. The Computer Error scam, in which a fake computer technician calls claiming that they are receiving error messages from a computer in the house, but they can fix it quickly if the victim follows the “technician’s” instructions. Those instructions allow the scam artists to log onto the victim’s computer and steal bank account and other personal and financial information.

“If a caller instructs you to buy a Green Dot money card or other type of instant cash card, or to wire money somewhere, then it’s a scam. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter what reason they give you, it is always a scam, every single time,” said Stenehjem, who encouraged North Dakotans to talk to their older family members about these scams.

More information about these scams is available on the Attorney General’s website on the “Scam Information” page or by contacting the Consumer Protection Division, toll-free at 1-800-472-2600.

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