Kmart workers, police save Shawano man from scam

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Leader Staff

An elderly Shawano man almost lost a bundle to scammers Thursday before Shawano police stepped in to keep him from being separated from his cash.

Employees at Kmart, 1211 E. Green Bay St., called police about noon to report that the 86-year-old man was trying to wire $7,000 to Jamaica so he could claim a lottery prize he was told he won.

The man was insisting on wiring the money despite employees’ attempts to alert him to the fact that it was a scam, according to the police report.

An officer arrived a short time later and was able to dissuade him.

The incident was just one of numerous scams, typically targeting the elderly, that police and Shawano County sheriff’s deputies have seen.

Earlier in the week, a Birnamwood man wired $750 to South Africa in order to claim his supposed lottery prize, according to the Sheriff’s Department. He went back and retrieved the money before it was actually sent, however.

But not all cases have such happy endings.

On Wednesday, a Wescott woman received a phone call from someone telling her she was $200 short on her WE Energies bill and instructing her to deposit the money in an account the caller provided, according to the sheriff’s report. She later checked with WE Energies and discovered she had not been short on her bill.

The lottery con is one of the most common, according to authorities, along with the so-called “grandparent scam,” in which the victim is told their grandson or some other relative is in jail — often in a foreign country — and needs bail money.

Another typical con reported to authorities in recent weeks is the Craigslist scam, which targets people selling items on Internet sites such as eBay or Craigslist and involve the supposed buyer sending the seller a check for much more than the sale price.

The victim is told to cash the check and send the rest back by Moneygram or Western Union. The check turns out to be no good, but the victim is already out any money they might have forwarded.

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