Senior loses $900 to Reader’s Digest scam

November 16, 2005

A Hood River senior citizen recently lost hundreds of dollars in a telephone scam that promised an almost 2,500 percent return on her money.

City Police Detective Stan Baker said the victim was informed that she had won a phony Reader’s Digest contest.

She was told that, in return for wiring a $900 handling fee, the company would deliver a $25,000 drawing prize right to her door.

Baker said the woman was spared the loss of another $900 because of a blunder on the other end of the wire.

The person picking up the second set of funds from another location could not remember the code word agreed upon for the transfer.

However, Baker said the $900 in stolen money cannot be recovered because there is no way to trace the suspect.

“What our victim didn’t know is that for amounts under $1,000, the person doesn’t even have to show identification to pick up the money,” he said.

Baker said a new identity theft scam revolving around jury duty is also in play via the telephone and e-mail.

He said the recipient is threatened with arrest for failure to show up and serve on a jury.

The caller claims to be the jury coordinator and informs the potential victim that a warrant has been issued for his/her arrest.

When the recipient of the call argues that he/she never received a notice for jury duty, the scammer moves in.

Baker said that individual then asks for a Social Security number and date of birth to verify the information.

“Once they get that from you, they are off the phone and your identity has been stolen,” said Baker. “Never, ever give out personal information over the telephone or computer.”

He recommends that residents be on guard against any incoming call with an unusual or enticing offer.

“If someone calls for any reason and wants to confirm your personal data, tell them that you’ll call them back.

“Then call the customer service number associated with that account and you’ll find out if the offer’s legitimate,” Baker said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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