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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | EAST COUNTY / MOORPARK

Phone Scam Targets Seniors, Officials Say

March 17, 1998|TROY HEIE

Police believe telephone-scam artists are targeting senior citizens in Moorpark with a phony offer of estate-planning help.

Claiming to represent the nonexistent Moorpark Senior Citizens Center Alliance, the solicitors have attempted to obtain personal information from seniors, said Kori Martinelli, a senior sheriff's deputy in Moorpark.

The calls in question took place March 9-13.

A handful of residents called the senior center to ask if officials there knew about the purported alliance. Center officials then contacted police about the bogus phone calls, Martinelli said.

No one has been asked for cash, but Martinelli said giving personal information to a stranger over the phone can be just as dangerous.

"They may be [saving] any information they get for future fraudulent use," he said.

Martinelli said residents should use common sense when reached by solicitors over the phone.

"No one should give out financial information, and they should never pay up front for a prize that's offered," he said.

"Also, legitimate companies would never pressure people and they would always accept 'no' for an answer."

When in doubt, Martinelli said, hang up the phone.

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