St. Cloud police warn of scammers targeting older peopleby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — If you don't know the person asking for money, don't give it away.
That's the message an 89-year-old St. Cloud woman learned earlier this week after someone called her house claiming to work security for U.S. Bank. The man told her he was investigating a theft and needed her help.
The man identified himself as "Mr. Peterson" and asked the woman to take $5,550 in cash from her account and meet him at a local J.C. Penney store, police said. He said he needed to use the bills to conduct an investigation.
A few hours later, that's exactly what she did.
"It's pretty common," St. Cloud Police Sgt. Martin Sayre said. "It could be someone that knows her or it could be someone that lives in the area and knows that there's an older person at that address."
Police are not identifying the woman because the case is still under investigation.
According to a police report, the money exchange happened on Monday between 11 a.m., when the woman received the fraudulent phone call, and 2:15 p.m., when police arrived at her house.
After she handed over the money and left the parking lot, the woman called her son, who then called police, Sayre said.
She described the man as approximately 50 years old with a slight build and short haircut. He wore a blue baseball cap.
Sayre warned residents to be cautious of any phone call from individuals asking for bank account information or money.
"It's better to call the police and be told that it's not a scam or it is a scam, than go through with it and be embarrassed about it," Sayre said. "And even if it does happen to you, report it because we need to know when stuff like this is happening."