Robstown police are asking the public to exercise caution against a new scam that has been circulating around the area.
Detective Sgt. Rick Paredez on Monday said at least seven Robstown residents, most of them elderly, have been targeted by a telephone scam in which the caller claims to be a relative or family acquaintance who has just been in a vehicular accident.
The caller then requests the victim send him or her money to help offset medical costs.
"Every one of these I've seen here, with the exception of one, has been (targeted towards) the elderly," Paredez said. "I guess (scammers) think they're more vulnerable."
Earlier this month, a scammer targeted an 81-year-old woman by pretending to be her nephew. The caller, as the nephew, allegedly informed the woman that he had just been in a car accident and needed $300 to pay off the woman whose car he had collided with so she wouldn't call the police.
The scammer asked the woman to send a money transfer in the "accident victim's" name, which the elderly woman did later that same day from the H-E-B grocery store in Robstown, according to the report. When the woman called the store to make sure the money had been picked up, she was informed that it had been collected in Reynosa, Mexico.
The woman later learned that her nephew was actually in Lubbock and had not been in an accident.
A similar scam was reported on March 8 when a Robstown woman told police she had been called over the span of three days by someone claiming to be a distant relative living in New Mexico. The scammer allegedly told the woman on March 6 that he would be visiting Robstown. The next day, he called to say he had been in an accident in San Antonio and needed $3,000 to pay the medical bills for a young child involved in the wreck.
Paredez said calls to the woman stopped when she declined to send that amount of money without first checking with her husband. Similar scams have been reported in Corpus Christi, he added, and are often most prevalent at the beginning of the month.
Paredez said residents who get calls similar to those reported should first try to verify the identity of the person calling. For instance, he said, if they are claiming to be a relative in need of money, call that relative and make sure the story is true.
Otherwise, any suspicious calls should be reported to the Robstown Police Department immediately, Paredez said.
"We just need people to be extra careful," he said.
To report suspicious phone calls or other suspected criminal behavior, contact Detective Sgt. Rick Paredez at the Robstown Police Department at (361) 387-3531.