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New Scam Targets Seniors

Woman signing check

Senior woman writing checks

A 63-year-old Gillette woman thought she was buying a custom car magnet to advertise for an energy drink company, only to realize she had been scammed out of $1,600.

The woman had responded to an email from an unknown scammer claiming to be “Chris” with VMP Energy Drink, according to Campbell Sheriff Scott Matheny. The scammer told her that if she sent $1,600 for the car magnet, she would receive that cash back in addition to another $1,000 for advertising the drink company on her vehicle, Matheny said.

She never received the magnet, but she did receive a check from the company for $2,600. When she tried to cash it, however, the bank informed her it was not valid.

“I haven’t heard of a scam like that in Wyoming yet,” Laura Baker, co-founder and executive director for CyberWyoming, said, “but there are similar instances that have occurred nationally.”

Baker said she plans to issue a CyberWyoming alert based on the incident.

“Ask potential scammers to send any info about the deal they are telling you about in writing through the mail because then, if it’s a scam, it becomes a federal offense,” Baker said, advising residents not to give out their address to anyone.

A similar incident occurred last month in Cheyenne.

CyberWyoming created a flyer outlining last month’s Cheyenne text scam.

During that incident, the victim was contacted via text message from a supposed childhood friend, who was actually a scammer, and asked to provide personal information and to answer those questions while alone. Once the information transfer happened, the scammer warned the victim not to mention this to anyone.

Baker added that residents should question anything dealing with money or personal information and advised them to call their bank or the local police department to ask if the company, organization, or deal is legitimate.

In 2018, Wyoming seniors 60 and older lost a reported $2.4 million to fraud, constituting the largest demographic of all age groups, according to a 2018 FBI report.

Baker added that anyone is welcome to report phishing attempts like this to phishing@cyberwyoming.org.

The incident is currently under investigation, according to Matheny, and the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office will be reaching out to the FBI’s fraud department for assistance.