The elderly man was about to get scammed out of $10,000 until a vigilant bank employee stepped in.

The Norridgewock grandfather got a phone call Friday from someone claiming to be a member of law enforcement who said his granddaughter was in jail and needed the cash to get out, according to Somerset County Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Knight.

“He actually went to the bank and they wouldn’t give it to him,” Knight said Saturday. “He was willing to do it.”

Multiple Skowhegan and Cornville residents called Skowhegan police and the sheriff’s office Friday, saying they were the target of similar scams.

TARGETING ELDERLY

Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam said Saturday that Skowhegan residents received calls that were automated recordings saying the residents had delinquent bills that must be paid with in 24 hours or police would arrest them.

“These messages seem to come in spurts, with the majority of reported calls on Friday being the elderly,” Bucknam said in an email. “They ask for money-grams and/or gift cards to take care of the issues.”

Bucknam said he spoke with officials from both Walmart and Hannaford, and they are working together to try to prevent people from getting scammed.

Walmart and Hannaford officials plan to ask people who are being targeted if the caller claimed to be from the Internal Revenue Service, according to Bucknam.

“If they are told ‘Yes,’ they are going to call Skowhegan police and we will respond to investigate further,” Bucknam said. “The goal is to prevent citizens’ limited income and retirement money from being taken from them by these scammers.”

“Due to technology, it’s almost impossible to track these con artists down. These calls are a scare tactic to our elderly to get them to comply,” Bucknam said.

“The biggest issues are the elderly who are scammed and don’t report due to the scare tactics or just plain embarrassment because they were taken advantage of.”

“We ask our citizens to call us if they are a victim so we can conduct an investigation,” Bucknam said.

IRS, POLICE WON’T CALL

Knight, of the sheriff’s office, said his office has received 19 scam complaints since Aug. 1.

“The calls vary from the complainant being told it was Dish Network and they would stop their satellite service if they didn’t send money, to the IRS scams, to Microsoft scams saying their computer is infected and can be fixed for a fee, to calls claiming to be from law enforcement giving vague information and saying they have a particular loved one incarcerated and to send X amount of dollars so they can be bailed,” Knight said.

“We have also had the check scams where a check is sent for an item listed for sale that is greater than what the seller was asking for with directions to send them X amount of money by Western Union and the seller could keep the extra,” he said.

Knight said Sheriff Dale Lancaster wants to remind people that the IRS will not call them asking for payment, nor will law enforcement call them to ask for money to bail someone out.

“If someone was, in fact, incarcerated they would be making calls for bail money themselves,” Knight said. “The sheriff would also like to remind people to never give their personal information out over the phone.”

Knight said some calls may be legitimate but if a person suspects a call is from a scammer, he or she should hang up or ask for a call-back number and then call local police to report the matter.