Weather Forecast


Scams and Cons: Sheriff's Office partners with Frazee Community Ed to hold class

Scammers are getting creative. It’s not just e-mails asking you to send $2,000 to a foreign prince to help him regain his freedom.

And it’s not just a phone call to an elderly person, telling them to send money to rescue their grandchildren in an overseas prison. Not that those don’t still happen, too.

Now scammers are getting phone numbers, and when people call the local, bogus phone number back, an automatic fee is charged.

Frazee-Vergas Community Education and the Becker County Sheriff’s Office are partnering to make people aware of these scams and others that are out there, and let people know what to do if they’ve gotten sucked into a scam.

On Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Frazee High School Media Center, community ed is hosting the free class Cons and Scams.

“This is going on and affects everybody at some level,” Frazee Community Education Director Dave Trautman said. “We all have parents or grandparents or even ourselves that get contacted.”

He said a while back, at the community ed office, they were registering a woman for a class and asked for her email address. She wouldn’t give it out.

“Then the conversation continued and she had no problem giving us her credit card number to pay for the class. That just kind of struck as…OK,” he said.

He said maybe she just didn’t know her email address or something, but it was interesting to put the two items back-to-back and not question it.

“Maybe we can do something good here by providing some information,” he said of the upcoming class. “Hopefully we can alleviate concerns and fears and just be proactive.”

Becker County Deputy Todd Glander said that the sheriff’s office receives complaints from people who have gotten calls asking for their Social Security number. Others report scammers calling to say they owe on a loan that the people never even had.

“We’re constantly getting calls,” he said. “Whether it’s solicitors coming up to people’s houses saying they’d like to check their roof for leaks or magazine salesmen. Some of them are legit but some of them, we just don’t know.”

He said the complaints aren’t daily, but they are often enough. And the department encourages people to report any kind of scams so that others can be made aware.

Last year the sheriff’s office had 127 reports of forgery or fraud, and 11 reports of identity theft.

“First, we just want to create awareness, let people know the scams are out there,” Glander said for the purpose of the class. “They aren’t just in the news; they are in this area, too. And then No. 2, how to prevent them from being a victim.”

Don’t return the phone call from an unfamiliar number. Don’t give out important information online.

“And then if it does happen, how to recognize it,” he said is another point they will be talking about during the class. Glander is bringing an investigator from the sheriff’s office with him to talk about this portion of the class.

“I can talk more on the prevention side and being able to recognize it. The investigator can discuss where to go as far as who to call, whether it be the bank or getting a credit report.

“There’s always a chance of a person being a victim, and we want to let them know what they can do and who they can go to. We want people to be aware that it’s out there.”

The class will consist of an audience-led discussion — plenty of time for questions and answers. If there is enough interest, this will possibly become an on-going class.

“If there is high interest and maybe generates more questions in another month or so, we’ll have another opportunity like this. We’re leaving this open-ended and hoping this is really a community service piece,” Trautman said.

The goal of the Feb. 25 presentation is to create awareness, prevention, know what to do and where to go, but it’s certainly not limited to those areas either.

To sign up for the free class, call community education at 218-334-3181, option 3, or go online to Pre-registration isn’t required but helpful.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield