DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. – Older residents in Douglas County have been getting scammed out of thousands of dollars over the past month and the trend is now raising alarms within the sheriff’s office.
So far, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has received three separate reports of older adults in their 70s who’ve lost upwards of $125,000 in both cash and gold.
In a news release Tuesday, deputies with the sheriff’s office said all three cases have some similarities: All victims are over the age of 70, the scams are ransomware-related and all victims are instructed to keep their conversations secret before meeting with the perps to steal their money.
Deputies said the scam starts with an “error message” popping up on an iPad or computer. The error message instructs the victim to call a number, at which point the suspects hack into the victim’s electronics and is told to either purchase gold or withdraw large amounts of cash before the suspect meets the victim to be handed the cash/gold.
Investigators said the suspects are concealing their identities by wearing a medical face mask and sunglasses and keep their interactions short.
In one such incident, an 83-year-old woman withdrew $22,000 from two different banks after the scammers claimed she was in danger of losing all her money.
The suspect in that case was identified as an Indian man in his 30s or 40s with an average/heavy build and short black hair. He was driving a silver minivan with no rims on the passenger side of the vehicle, according to detectives with the sheriff’s office.
“We’re very concerned,” said Douglas County Sheriff Darren Weekly, who explained that while scams are nothing new, “what is new in these other cases is that the suspect is actually meeting with our victims in person. It’s a dangerous situation.”
While deputies don’t believe this is part of a ring, they do believe this is the latest and newest way to scam older people.
“We want people to be very vigilant with the elder population, whether you're talking for your parents, your neighbors – talk to them and ensure that they don’t fall for them,” said Weekly, who said the suspect is telling its victims that their computer or iPad has child sexual abuse material or other type of incriminating information victims would be reluctant to share with law enforcement.
Deputies said older residents should never let anyone take over your computer and never give money/valuables to anyone they don’t know.
“Always take a moment to verify the identity and credentials of anyone seeking financial transactions or sensitive information,” Weekly said.
Anyone with information should contact Detective Herring at firstname.lastname@example.org.