Watch out for scams, Durango police warn

Mail, phone, ad schemes active in community

The Durango Police Department is warning the public about several scams circulating in the community that aim to dupe residents out of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

The scams, which have been going on for a couple of months, are being conducted by mail, telephone and classified ads in the employment sections of local newspapers in hopes of targeting people who are eager to make money, said Brad Roach, detective with the police department.

Some residents have answered “mystery shoppers” ads, in which they are asked to purchase specific items from specific stores, and send those items and a receipt to an address with a promise to be reimbursed with a large profit, he said.

The reimbursement never comes.

Others have answered ads for personal assistants. The scammers say they are moving to the area from overseas and need checks cashed and wired to them. Victims are promised a portion of the money for their efforts. Victims deposit the check and wire the amount requested before the check is found to be fraudulent.

One man told police he received a call from a person claiming he won a lottery prize. The caller said representatives tried to deliver the winnings in person, but the man wasn’t home. The caller said in order to collect the prize, he had to pay the taxes on the winnings. The victim wired the “tax amount,” but the winnings never arrived.

Scammers have convinced residents they are legitimate by describing the victims’ houses and other landmarks in the neighborhood by using satellite-imaging sights on the Internet, Roach said.

“The scammers are currently using the best technology to get money out of potential victims,” Roach wrote in an email to the Herald. “These scams often target the elderly, but people of all ages can fall victim.”

Local banks also have seen several fraudulent checks and do their best to detect the fraud before any money is spent, he said.

Residents who suspect they have received a fraudulent check are asked to call 375-4730.