Over the years scammers have perfected the art of separating people from their money using wire transfers.
Some of the simplest schemes are well known but despite that fact and the efforts to thwart scammers Vermonters continue to be taken in.
One of the most popular forms of wire fraud is called the Grandparent Scam where a caller contacts a senior citizen and pretends to be a family member in distress and needing money wired immediately.
Many large supermarkets provide wire transfer services and sometimes an alert employee will spot a case of fraud.
That happened recently at a St. Johnsbury Price Chopper when a clerk became suspicious about a transfer of funds requested by a local senior. It turned out the customer was the victim of the Grandparent Scam.
Nicole Murray is compliance manager for Price Chopper. She says store employees are given instructions on how to spot wire transfer scams.
"If the transaction itself just doesn’t make sense as to why, they’re asked to question. We’ve empowered them to make the decision, does that sound logical to you does that sound like someone who should be sending money,." Murray explains.
Murray says her company’s clerks routinely foil attempts at wire fraud, adding, "We have 129 stores across six states. We see this numerous times a day, every single day."
In spite of those efforts many scams go undetected until it’s too late and Attorney General Bill Sorrell says other businesses offering wire transfers should follow Price Choppers example.
"Just since January 1 of this year, we’ve had $57,000 in losses reported to us from Vermonters and we think that’s just the tip of the iceberg,"says Sorrell.
Sorrell says if you’re asked to wire money out of the country – there’s a strong likelihood it’s a scam. He points to a 2008 Federal Trade Commission Survey found that 79 percent of consumer wire transfers from the U.S. to Canada involving $1,000 or more were fraud related.