PUTNAM COUNTY, Ind. – There is a bizarre and complicated scam popping up in Putnam County and it uses an unwitting taxi cab driver to rope in victims.
It is a new take on an old-style phone scam, and one that authorities believe can be very intimidating, especially for older people.
“I’d just never heard of a scam quite like this,” said Putnam County Sheriff’s Deputy David Ducker.
This week, authorities say scammers set their sights on an 81-year-old woman in the Heritage Lake neighborhood—the same woman who they’d already ripped off once back in November using a lottery scam, causing her to lose thousands of dollars.
“They realized they’d gotten some money from her and they thought ‘well if we keep pushing it...maybe she’ll get scared again and give us more money,’” said Ducker.
Authorities said the scammers called a local cab company and sent a taxi to the woman’s house, with instructions for the driver to call a specific number when he arrived.
“The taxi cab driver wasn’t aware of what was going on,” said Ducker, “so he drove over.”
The driver called the number, which was the scammer, who at that point told him to give the phone to the elderly woman.
“She answers the phone,” said Ducker, “they tell her that she’s in a lot of trouble at this point because she hadn’t been paying the taxes on the lottery that she had allegedly won.”
At that same moment, police said a second scammer called the woman on her personal phone, telling her he was a federal agent, and that she needed to pay money to get right with the IRS.
“Fortunately she has a couple neighbors that watch out for her,” said Ducker, “they kind of came by and …as soon as they saw the taxicab there they contacted law enforcement.”
Thankfully, the woman didn’t lose any more money. Authorities say what happened here is a reminder of the cardinal rule of phone scam safety.
“Law enforcement, whether it be federal or state, would never contact you by phone, threaten you…and then demand you send money to them,” said Ducker.