By Kathi Bliss
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend, here lately.
A couple of times over the last several weeks, I’ve received reports from readers who are concerned about getting the word out about themselves or their relatives being targets of online, telephone or mail scams. Often, I’m asked to help, or at least to help get the word out about the sort of scams that are happening.
Naturally, I’m happy to help get information to people that need to have the information, and to help in any other way that I can. However, the one most specific area of help, however, is help that I can’t provide. I can’t provide legal help.
One reader in particular sent two emails in three days to notify us of a scam that his elderly mother had been targeted by. Those emails, of course, were the catalyst behind the story about scammers on the front page of this week’s paper.
I did find it disturbing, however, to note that while the son of a would-be victim contacted the newspaper twice in three days, that no report of this obviously-illegal activity was made to the police. Neither the Lockhart Police Department nor the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office had any evidence of any such report made recently.
This, unfortunately, is a common theme. All too often, we here at the paper get calls about this kind of activity, only to find that it has not been reported to the police.
Failure to report the scams to the police, unfortunately, is what allows this kind of crime to thrive, I think.
Certainly, it’s embarrassing to get taken in by someone who plays on your emotions, either helpfulness, desperation or hope, to steal your money. No one likes that feeling. But it’s important to remember, when you find yourself in that situation, that the police are not here to judge us or to make fun. The police are here to help.
If they don’t know what’s happening, they can’t help.
Do I know whether there is a tie in the three cases I’ve heard of the “Grandkid Scam” coming to Lockhart? No. Do I know whether they are related in any way, or even executed by the same source? No. What’s more, I have neither the expertise nor the resources to find out.
Law enforcement, on the other hand, has those resources. They have the personnel, the research capabilities and the legal authority to truly help in these situations. And it seems to me, those resources should be utilized. Reporting crime is the only way to solve it. Reporting crime is the only way to put the wheels in motion to bring the perpetrators to justice.
I’m not saying I want people to stop coming to the newspaper with reports of this kind of scamming behavior; in fact, I hope that our readers will continue to make reports to us, so we can all work together to continue to keep the community informed about the dangers lurking about out there.
However, I’m also asking that we go ahead and take it one step further. I can certainly pass the information I receive along to law enforcement, and I often do. However, it is so very, very important that the people involved in these experiences also notify law enforcement.
These scammers are criminals – and their crimes should be treated like crimes.
Would you refuse to call the police if someone tried, but failed, to break into your home? If they tried, but failed, to pass a check in your name? No. So why, then, do we refuse to report it to the police when someone tries, but fails, to talk us into giving them money in one of these scams?
If you or someone you love has been targeted by a scammer or other criminal activity, you can make a report to the Lockhart Police Department by calling (512) 398-4401. If you live outside the Lockhart city limits, call the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Department at (512) 398-6777.