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Bystander stops scam in progress at Boise grocery store

An employee in the Idaho attorney general's office spotted the red flags of a scam and jumped into action.
Credit: thinkstock

BOISE, Idaho — When Lee Post witnessed a woman being scammed out of thousands of dollars, she quickly jumped into action.

The veteran consumer specialist with the Idaho attorney general's office has seen it all before through her work helping Idaho residents with consumer-related issues.

The incident took place earlier this month at a Boise Albertsons store. Post was in the checkout line when the woman in line in front of her asked the cashier to load $3,000 onto several gift cards.

The woman also appeared to be having a phone conversation at the time, according to the AG's office, and Post recognized the woman was likely caught up in a scam.

"I jumped in and said 'This is a scam, ma'am,'" Post said in a news release. "I asked her if she had someone on the phone telling her to do this."

The woman replied that she was, in fact, being directed by someone on the phone.

Post requested to speak with the caller.

"I said 'This is Lee and I know this is a scam,'" Post said. "I also told the person to never call this woman again and he hung up."

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Post's supervisor in the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, Brett DeLange, applauded her quick thinking.

"I want to commend Lee for stepping in and shutting down this scam," DeLange said in a statement. "Thanks to her quick work, a woman was prevented from being swindled out of $3,000."

Officials warn Idahoans to watch out for certain red flags that signal a scam, including:

  • A call from a number you don't recognize;
  • A threat of arrest from the caller or some other false scenario meant to create a sense of fear or urgency;
  • Recorded messaging that is used by scammers to mask accents or broken English; and
  • Any requests to send payment via gift cards, iTunes cards, or prepaid cards from companies like Visa, Mastercard or green dot.

Any call from an unknown number should be treated with skepticism, officials say. Other advice includes letting unknown calls go to voicemail and hanging up on suspicious callers immediately.

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The AG's office says they often receive reports of Idahoans falling prey to phone scams. In one recent case, a women sent $14,000 to scammers pretending to be police threatening her arrest for a fabricated contempt of court charge.

"These scams are infuriating," DeLange said. "And sadly, they continue to play out across our state. I encourage everyone who understands the threat to have conversations with friends and family members who may be vulnerable. Education is the best way to help prevent our fellow Idahoans from being preyed upon."

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