LAUREL, Md. (WJZ) — Howard County police are reminding older residents and their families to look out for financial scams.

This comes after an 86-year-old Elkridge man wired $151,000 to cover taxes on a fake $1.6 million prize check.

Police said the man received letters and phone calls from people claiming to be from “Publisher’s Clearing House”, alleged company attorneys and supposed IRS representatives.

The man was given a fake check and was told he needed to wire money to receive an “activation code,” proof he had paid taxes on the prize money, in order to cash the check.

The Better Business Bureau said no legitimate sweepstakes will ask you to pay insurance, taxes or shipping and handling charges for a prize.

It warns residents not to wire or send money to anyone who says you have won a prize.

The agency said to avoid high-return investments that claim to have no risk and to refuse to provide personal banking information, credit card numbers or social security numbers to a caller.

The Better Business Bureau also said not to trust someone is calling from a government agency without asking for a certified letter on official letterhead.

It also recommends against hiring someone who shows up at your door offering to fix your plumbing or your roof, a common practice among scammers.

Thousands of older Americans are victims of fraud every year.


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