Steamboat briefs: 2 fraud cases result in $5,000 losses

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— Two fraud cases resulting in losses of nearly $5,000 were reported to law enforcement Wednesday.

An elderly couple from Oak Creek received a phone call Tuesday from someone posing as their grandson, claiming to have gotten in a car accident while on a ski vacation in Canada, Routt County Sheriff's Office Investigator Ken Klinger said.

"He even got someone on the phone pretending to be a police officer," Klinger said. "It was a total fraud, and they're out $4,500."

The couple even received a second phone call Wednesday asking for them to wire another $2,000 to pay for medical bills, but by that point, they already had learned that the man calling was not their grandson, Klinger said.

Another fraud case was reported Wednesday to the Steamboat Springs Police Department by an employee at a local art gallery, who received a phone call Tuesday from someone posing as an artist who displays work in her gallery, Police Sgt. Rich Brown said.

The man posing as the artist said he was trying to get to Steamboat Springs, but his carry-on luggage containing his plane ticket and his wallet was stolen. He asked the woman to wire $430 to his travel agent, so he could book another flight, and said he'd pay her back when he got into town, Brown said.

"He spoke to her on a first-name basis," Brown said. "She thought it was really him, so she left work and went to Wal-Mart and wired money to California."

When the woman never ard from the artist Wednesday, she gave him a call and quickly realized she'd been scammed, Brown said.

"They're both the same - they're playing on people's heartstrings," Klinger said.

Fraud reports, including phone scams, have been pretty commonplace in Steamboat Springs, Brown said. He urged people to be very careful if they get phone calls asking for money, even if they think the caller is someone they know.

"Verify all the information before you take the steps to send money anywhere," Brown said.

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