ELKLHART COUNTY — Over the past two weeks there have been two incidents of fraud reported to the Elkhart County Sheriff Department. In both of these cases, the suspect has targeted an elderly person, provided them a fictitious but believable story concerning a loved one being in trouble and needing a large sum of money.
In each case, the victim was directed to obtain the money through purchasing gift cards at Target. Persons are asked to understand, if you are contacted by any official agency or legitimate company; they will not ask you to purchase any type of gift cards for payment. If, for any reason, you are contacted by someone requesting some type of payment and they are requesting you obtain gift cards as the form of payment, there is a high probability that you are the victim of a fraud.
Some suggestions on how to handle a situation where you believe a loved one is in trouble and needs money to help them out of the problem.
First, you should attempt to contact that loved one separately from the initial phone call. If they are calling, saying they are in jail, call them to find out if they are actually in jail. If they are calling, saying they are in trouble in another country, call them to find out if they are actually in another country. If you cannot reach them, call another family member who is close to them, (mother, father, brother, sister), to see if they know where the family member is at, (are they in jail, in another country).
Second, most legitimate agencies or businesses that are requesting payment will require you to come in person to present the payment. On those rare occasions where payment can be sent to them, they will require a certified check or money order. Most government offices will not take cash, gift cards or other forms of alternate payment.
If you feel like you are the victim of a fraud of this type; you should always contact your local police department.