By Jason Sethre
Fillmore County Journal
Did you see the story reported in the August 16, 2022, issue of the Post-Bulletin about a 65-year-old woman and a 69-year-old man in Rochester, Minn., who wired more than $300,000 of their life savings in an online fraud case? The police reported that the woman called a phone number that she thought was Microsoft, because their computer had locked up. Following that phone call, a person pretending to be with the U.S. Marshal’s office called her and told her that her savings account was breached and her money was at risk. The woman made four wire transfers totaling $303,000 of her life savings.
Scammed. Gone. Stolen.
It’s happening more and more.
A few months ago, a conversation took place in the office of the Fillmore County Journal, in which we discussed all of the scams we have heard about lately. Nearly every person on our team had received a scam by e-mail, text or phone call. It seems like scammers have been busier than usual trying to swindle people out of money.
Michelle Quanrud, who serves as the website administrator for the Fillmore County Journal and as the General Manager of SMG Web Design, pointed out an opportunity to serve the public. She questioned whether we could collaborate with local law enforcement to share these scams with the public as they become prevalent in our local market.
So, we scheduled a meeting with Fillmore County Sheriff John DeGeorge, Captain Phillip Whitacre, and Investigative Sergeant Dan Dornink to discuss a possible collaboration between our news organization and local law enforcement. During our meeting, we learned that the scams we had encountered were just the tip of the iceberg.
There have been many people taken advantage of in our region. There were all sorts of scams we had never heard of, and our local friends and neighbors were caught up in these scams – sending money away only to be asked for more.
We are talking about large sums of money.
Of course, nearly everyone has heard the stories about how some grandparents have received a phone call from someone stating that their grandchild has been detained by the Mexican police, and they urgently need funds to release their grandchild from jail.
The storylines seem endless. And, since most of these scams are administered by someone in another country, they are rarely ever caught and, if so, minimally punished. So, they continue to target victims in multiplicity.
They are pretty sharp when it comes to scamming. And, technology has enhanced their predatory potential. It’s too bad they don’t use their ambition for something constructive.
During our conversation, we discussed how we can help inform the public about these scams, and that it needs to be done on a regular basis. We can’t just share these scams on an intermittent basis. It’s need to be an on-going initiative. The reality is that these scammers are constantly adapting their approach, which means we need to be on constant alert.
The one thing that Sheriff DeGeorge shared was that our local banks have been at the forefront of consumer fraud protection. They pay attention to irregular bank account activity, and they work with their customers to halt fraudulent transactions as swiftly as possible.
So, it only seemed like a natural fit that we would partner with local banks who make consumer financial protection a priority.
Thanks to the support of the following local community banks, every week the Fillmore County Journal will publish a feature titled “Scam Alert.”
• Bremer Bank
• First Southeast Bank –
Canton & Harmony
• First State Bank of Fountain
• First State Bank of Minnesota
• Merchants Bank
• New Albin Savings Bank
• Root River State Bank
• Rushford State Bank
Readers can look for the Scam Alert feature located by the police reports in this newspaper every week starting with today’s issue.
If you suspect you or someone you know may be a victim of a scam, please contact your local Sheriff’s Office. The Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office phone number is (507) 765-3874. The Houston County Sheriff’s Office phone number is (507) 725-3379 ext. 4101. The Mower County Sheriff’s Office phone number is (507) 437-9400.