Phone scam targeting elderly, makes them think they won money

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A new scam is targeting elderly people nationwide, and it happened to one woman here in Bakersfield.

Claudia Diaz is the owner of a restaurant on Niles Street, and she said this week her mother Maria received a call from a man claiming he was with Publisher's Clearing House. The man told her she was a big winner.

"So we were all excited, thinking that she did," said Diaz.

To claim the $5,000 prize, the man told Maria she would need to pay a one percent insurance fee up front, which would cost her $500.

The scammers then asked for even more "insurance" money saying that she could win $3 million, and Diaz knew something wasn't right.

"I told her to tell them that there's no more money, we're not sending anything," said Diaz.

Police say that if you get a check in the mail that's worth thousands of dollars, it usually means it's too good to be true.

"If you're not the person that's initiating that contact, somebody's coming to you and requesting your personal information, be highly suspicious, and don't give out personal information," said BPD Sergeant Joe Grubbs.

Diaz said this isn't the first time that her family has been the victim of scammers.

"It happened to me before with PG&E, they would call on the weekends, saying that  we had a balance and we had to pay it or they would shut off the gas and electricity," said Diaz.

Police say there's not much they can do about nationwide scams, but they say utility companies will usually only send invoices and will not call asking for a payment.

Police also say the best thing to do if you get a check in the mail is to properly shred it.

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