Popular fraud schemes often take two forms: It's either a grandson that's suddenly in jail and needs bail money, or, you've just won a lottery in Jamaica and need to send money to claim the prize.
These schemes are targeted toward seniors who tend to be very trusting.
Peggy Hiestand-Harri of Duluth, Minn. said her mother was tricked by a Jamaican lottery scam that said she had won $2.5 million and a Mercedes Benz.
In 10 days, Peggy's mother wired more than $40,000 to the source of the fraud.
In many of the frauds, the money is wired to a legitimate collection point such as New York, but in the process, the transfer is intercepted and re-directed elsewhere, in this case, Jamaica.
"The last two years we were documented reported losses of four to five million dollars a year from senior citizens mainly here in Minnesota," retired BCA agent Jim Arlt said.
Two state lawmakers are now stepping in. A bill by representative Joe Atkins (DFL – Inver Grove Heights) and senator Terry Bonoff (DFL – Dist. 44) would create a "do not send" list to prevent vulnerable adults from making repeated money transfers. It would also require transfer companies to notify the sender if the money is redirected to a different location.
"It sounds so simple, but that's crux of this legislation because the scammers don't want to go to where the money was supposed to be picked up because they know they might be caught there," Atkins said.
Representative Atkins and the former BCA investigator say Minnesota seniors are favorite target for these thieves because they have a propensity in this region to be more trusting. Sometimes, it clearly does not pay to be "Minnesota Nice."