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CONNECTS AGAINST CRIME: Threatening Scams
IOWA CITY, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- As if the world of scams wasn't bad enough - police say crooks are turning it up to another level. They say scammers are resorting to threats of violence to get money from victims.
On Wednesday, police say a CVS in Cedar Rapids was threatened by phone. Police say a person called up and threatened to harm the manager and the store employees if they didn't give them money orders.
Police say they are seeing scams get more sinister.
Officer R.A. Mebus recalls a couple of calls he got this week. People were saying they were contacted by police - about warrants out for their arrest.
"The caller indicated they could resolve the issue by going and getting a prepaid money card," he says.
The person then asked the potential victim to send them the card. Mebus says luckily, no one he spoke to fell for it.
About 30 miles North in Cedar Rapids, one man almost did.
"He was an elderly gentleman, and he had to put a couple hundred dollars on a card," said Chasity Hewitt, a manager at a local Walgreens.
The ultimatum was simple - do it, or lose power at his business. When he went to the Walgreens to buy the Green Dot card, a clerk used his better judgment.
"We let him know there's a scam out there where people are calling people," Hewitt says." We try to do our part for the community to warn people about this."
Two scams, two cities, but the same concept - pray on the weak and the vulnerable.
"The effort was to use fear, intimidation - whether it's turning off your utilities or bringing harm to your business," says Greg Buelow, Cedar Rapids Public Safety Spokesman.
Police in both cities say the implications are frightening. Mebus says he gets calls not only from Iowa, but from all around the world. Potential victims claim that the scammer used the police substation's phone number.
Mebus says many scammers are using new technology.
"You can put in a spoofed phone number that will show up on the person's caller ID," Mebus says.
Buelow says investigators are very concerned, that this may be only the beginning.
"Can you imagine someone on a hot humid day where they don't want to lose their air conditioning?" Buelow asks.
Bottom line - if you get an unsolicited call to your home, and they tell you need to send money right away - it's a scam. Call police or your utility company right away for assistance.