LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) —This week, the Pinellas Sheriff’s Office is kicking off Fraud Prevention Awareness Week and will be presenting fraud prevention workshops all across the county. They will discuss the most common phone scams, as well as provide tips on how to prevent becoming a victim.
According to detectives, the most common scams include the so called “IRS scam,” “Jury Duty Scam,” and the “Romance Scam.”
When 71-year-old Largo resident Catherine Short fell for a charming stranger named Duane Rogers she met online, she fell hard. “I was a widow and I was lonely and I decided that I wanted to find somebody to share the rest of my life with,” said Short.
At first, it was all about the romance, but their conversations quickly turned to cash and she began to suspect something. She had never met Duane, never even laid eyes on the guy, but that didn’t stop him from asking for money and electronics. “Are you scamming me? And he says, ‘Baby, I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t scam somebody I really love,’” said Short.
The online Romeo requested laptops and cell phones from the Apple Store from her and Short continued to shell them out. “It came out that he wanted me to keep going to this store and buy more and more,” said Short.
In the end, she lost her entire life’s savings to him, even selling her home in Largo to make ends meet. “It turned out, that he wasn’t wrong, I was the wrong. I was a big fool,” said Short.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office wasn’t fooled; they see cases of so-called “romance fraud” all the time. “Once they got the heart, then they go for the pocket,” said Sgt. John Spoor.
Through Fraud Prevention Week, they want to stop others from falling into the same scam trap as Short did.
The workshops will be held at various times and locations throughout the week:
November 16, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.
City of Seminole Recreation Center, 9100 113th Street North, Seminole
November 16, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.
Feather Sound Community Church, 13880 Feather Sound Drive, St Petersburg
November 17, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.
Madeira Beach City Centre Room, 300 Municipal Drive, Madeira Beach
November 17, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.
Lealman VFW Post #4364, 4145 34th Street North, St Petersburg
November 18, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.
Palm Harbor Library, 2330 Nebraska Avenue, Palm Harbor
November 18, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.
East Lake Library, 4125 East Lake Road, Palm Harbor
November 19, 2015 at 11:30 a.m.
Safety Harbor Library, 101 2nd Street North, Safety Harbor
November 19, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.
Dunedin Community Center, 1930 Pinehurst Road, Dunedin
November 20, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.
Sheriff’s Administration Building (Patrol Read off Room), 10750 Ulmerton Road, Largo
November 20, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.
Oldsmar Public Library, 400 St. Petersburg Drive East, Oldsmar