Scammers strike Trumbull

Don’t let visitors in without checking them out

Editor’s note: This monthly series highlights scams that target Trumbull County, particularly the senior community. Don Hyde is a retired sheriff’s deputy who is the program coordinator for the Trumbull County Office of Elderly Affairs Senior Services Unit, Warren. Contact him at 330-675-7096 or at eahyde@co.trumbull.oh.us

By DON HYDE

Special to the Tribune Chronicle

In the past two weeks, there have been two incidents in Trumbull County involving people posing as representatives from different agencies.

In Weathersfield, two men posed as state officials and told the victim that they wanted to check his water meter because he was overpaying for his water. While he was downstairs with the first man, the other one remained upstairs, alone.

When the victim realized that something was wrong, the subjects left, but not before they had taken money from the victim’s wallet.

In Brookfield, the subjects posed as employees of the power company. The victim was told that there was a problem with her breaker box and the subjects had her go down in the basement. While she was in the basement, they took various items from her house and left.

In both cases, the victims were elderly, live alone, and the subjects were able to enter the houses without resistance. These are just the cases that were reported. We don’t know how many more homes these scammers called on and how many more thefts were pulled.

Here are some ways of preventing yourself from becoming a victim of this type of scam:

l Never, NEVER let anyone in your house if you are not sure who they are, no matter what “credentials” they show you. The victim in Weathersfield was shown a photo ID card that was on a lanyard around the scammer’s neck.

l Ask questions: Why are you here? Who sent you? Why wasn’t I notified beforehand?

If you don’t see a vehicle, ask why not. All vehicles should have some type of identification on them, such as a company name and logo.

If they have an ID card, check it very carefully before you let them in.

If they seem to get upset with you for checking them out, DON’T let them in. Legitimate workers will understand and be patient with you.

l Call the agency. If you are not sure, call the agency or utility to see if the visit is legitimate. They will be more than cooperative. If the visit is not legit, let the agency or company know right away what is happening.

l Call the police. If you are not sure of with whom you are dealing, let the police determine if the subjects should be there.

When calling the police, try to get as much information as possible on the subjects — color and make of car and, if possible, the license plate number; a description of the subjects, such as what are they wearing, clean-shaven or facial hair, color of hair, anything that describes them.

For some reason, people do not call the police because they may not think it is important. Remember, maybe the police are already looking for these subjects and your call will help catch them.

If the subjects are checked out and they are legit, no harm done. The workers will understand and have no problem being validated.

l Call your neighbors. See if the subjects have been to their houses for the same reasons. Maybe someone can come to your house while the subjects are there.

l Don’t be so trusting. Unfortunately, you cannot trust anyone. The days of believing someone’s word are over. A handshake means nothing like in the good ol’ days.

Be very careful of who you are dealing with unless you can verify the subjects.

Please, please be careful. Ask questions. Call someone if you are not sure of the people at your door. Don’t be afraid to call the police; that is why they are there.

If by chance this has happened to you, call your local police right away and report it. There have been two incidents in the past two weeks in the county, so please beware.

If you have any information concerning these incidents, call either Weathersfield or Brookfield police.

If you have any questions concerning scams, or need someone to speak to your group about protecting yourself from scams, please call me at 330-675-7096.