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Consumer Fraud

Don't Be A Victim: How To Avoid Scams. Video production co-sponsored by the Iowa City Public Library, MidWestOne, and Johnson County Livable Community. (April 2016)

Tips from the Iowa City Police Department

According to Iowa City Police Department, the Crime Prevention Office receives numerous calls regarding scams aimed at the elderly, especially those in nursing homes. Financial exploitation is defined by Iowa Statute as “the act or process of taking unfair advantage of an individual or taking assets or resources for your own profit or gain. This includes the use of undue influence, harassment, duress, deception or false representation”. The following are examples of current scams in our community:

  • Grandchild in Distress – You receive a call from someone claiming to be your grandchild – they even wait to let you say the grandchild’s name and continue to build on you thinking they are your grandchild, and stating they are in distress (in jail, stranded, etc.). The person on the other end of the phone gives a distressing story and asks you to wire money immediately to a location.
  • Bank Examiner Scam – You receive a call from a “bank examiner / employee” who needs you to withdraw funds to help catch a stealing employee.
  • Utility Company Scam – You receive a call claiming they are Mid-American Energy, your cable company or any other utilities you might use, claiming that if you don’t immediately pay your outstanding bill they will shut off your utilities.
  • Lotto / Sweepstakes Scam – You receive a phone call, email or letter stating you have just won a foreign lottery. They ask for upfront payment of taxes to be wired before your winnings are deposited into your account.
  • Classifieds Scam – You place an item for sale or lease in the newspaper classifieds or on Craig’s List, and receive a call from someone wanting to pay more than you have requested. The person tells you they are going to send you a check for double the amount and requests you send them back a portion, then keep the rest for your troubles.

Tips to help keep you and your finances safe

  • Never rush into a financial decision. Always take the extra step to verify the request is legitimate prior to sending any money.
  • Never give out personal information over the phone. If your financial institution is calling you, they already have your information.
  • Report any suspicious phone calls or letters to the police.
  • Never pay a fee to collect a winning.
  • Say NO!
  • Ask for help!
  • *REMEMBER, if it sounds too good to be true, it often is.

For more information from Iowa City Police Department about how to avoid being the victim of a scam

Please contact Crime Prevention Officer at 319-356-5275 or visit for more information about how to avoid being the victim of a scam.


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