WATERVILLE — Randy Marshall called the Waterville Police Department concerned that an elderly couple was being scammed when they insisted they wait for their millions of dollars to be flown into the city airport.

Marshall, who is the manager of the Robert LaFleur Airport, informed the police department about the suspicious incident on July 1.

While communicating with the scammers, the couple was told they needed to purchase lots of gift cards to pay taxes on prize winnings. They then gave the scammers the card numbers.

“Unfortunately, scammers are getting really good at being convincing,” said officer Linda Smedberg, who reported to the scene.

Marshall informed the couple there were no scheduled incoming aircraft and reached out to Portland as well to convince them. The couple had no money left after purchasing the gift cards. Despite the incident not taking place in Smedberg’s jurisdiction, seeing the urgency of the situation she helped call the gift card companies to put holds on the cards.

“That’s what we’ve come to expect from Linda; if she can go above and beyond to help someone she will. We’ve come to expect that from her as a person and officer,” said Deputy Chief William Bonney of the Waterville Police Department.

According to Bonney the police department as a whole is full of officers who “go above and beyond,” but it is not always recognized publicly.

“I myself have received calls and they’re very believable,” said Smedberg. “Scammers are out there, they prey on vulnerable communities. Unfortunately, these people had a savings, and they thought they were getting more money.”

They ended up being able to salvage enough money to pay about two months of the couple’s mortgage payments.

“If it seems too good to be true; it is too good to be true,” Bonney said.

Bonney recommends not giving out any personal information such as a social security number to avoid becoming prey to scammers. “Any legitimate business will not ask for payments in gift cards or iTunes cards,” he said.

Additionally, the police department warned anyone who threatens to show up at your door or arrest you is not legitimate. Do not continue communication when you believe you are being scammed and do not ever give out personal information such as a social security number or debit/credit card numbers, he said.

SeniorsPlus, a nonprofit organization based in Lewiston, is a part of the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Heather Davis, the chief operating officer of SeniorsPlus, said scamming “is a big problem for people who don’t know how to protect themselves.” She recommends referring to AARP’s free fraud network or calling any of their agencies for questions or guidance.

“There’s a lot of information out there for people with disabilities and elderly people,” said Davis.

Chances of scammers being held accountable are very slim because oftentimes they originate from outside the country, but the Waterville Police Department wants the community to be aware of the increasingly prevalent scams.

“We get a lot of reports of scams here,” Smedberg said. “If you have any doubts or questions, call us. Call the police department, we can usually tell pretty easily. We’d rather you come to us to clarify than become a victim.”

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