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Attorney General William Sorrell Recognizes Price Chopper Associate For Stopping A Grandparent Scam

CONTACT: William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, (802) 828-3173

July 12, 2012

Attorney General William Sorrell publicly recognized St. Johnsbury Price Chopper Associate Carol Goehring for her efforts to intercede in a wire transfer scam that would have cost a Vermonter over $1,000. When a local senior approached the counter where Ms. Goehring was working to request a wire transfer, Ms. Goehring may not have guessed that she would have a chance to stop international fraud. But when the customer provided details about the transaction, Ms. Goehring suspected a scam, put a hold on the transfer, and contacted the wire transfer company, which later confirmed that the money would have been lost – the call to the senior had been a fraud. Price Chopper was able to return the funds from the incomplete transfer.

“Grandparent scams” typically start with a telephone call from an individual posing as a close relative of the targeted senior. The caller claims to be in trouble and in need of emergency funds. The caller directs the consumer to wire transfer money from a nearby store, and frequently asks that the senior not contact other family members out of “embarrassment.” Many consumers who have received these calls indicate that the callers did indeed sound much like their loved ones, and were very convincing.

Wire transfer scams like these typically originate from overseas or Canada. According to a 2008 FTC survey to consumers who sent $1,000 or more to Canada, 79% were fraud-induced. In Vermont, just this year, the Consumer Assistance Program has received reports of $57,000 in losses through just 42 wire transfers. Once the money is picked up, it is virtually impossible to get it back. The best way to stop these scams is through vigilance by the public, by the diligent efforts of responsible agents like Ms. Goehring, and by retailers requiring annual, specialized training for all employees who handle wire transfers.

Today, Attorney General Sorrell announced the creation of the “Pure Vermont” Awards Program to recognize those individuals, businesses, and organizations that exemplify the best Vermont traditions. “Here in Vermont, a handshake still means something, and Vermonters expect fair dealing in the marketplace. We also have a strong tradition of caring for our communities and helping our neighbors. I am launching this program to raise awareness about the efforts that Vermonters make every day to make this state a great place to live and a great place to do business,” said Attorney General Sorrell.

In awarding the first Pure Vermont Award to Ms. Goehring, Attorney General Sorrell said: “Vermonters have always looked out for each other. There is no better example of the care we can take for our neighbors than the quick actions of Ms. Goehring in this instance. Awareness and vigilance are our best defenses against scams like these. I applaud Ms. Goehring for her work.” The Attorney General also noted the impressive training program that Price Chopper has put into place to prevent wire transfer fraud, and expressed his hope that more retailers would take on this important responsibility.

At the press conference today, Attorney General Sorrell also thanked Senator Jane Kitchel of Danville, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the Vermont legislature for providing new resources to the Consumer Assistance Program to assist Vermont businesses in complying with Vermont’s consumer protection laws and for increased enforcement when those laws are violated.

For over 30 years, the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program (CAP) has been helping to educate consumers and resolve complaints in support of a fairer, healthier consumer marketplace. Working with attorneys in the Public Protection Division of the Attorney General’s office, CAP promotes consumer awareness, protects consumers from fraud, and connects consumers with available resources. Regarding consumer protection, Attorney General William Sorrell says “our best efforts are realized when we all work together to make the marketplace healthier, more sustainable, and more fair.”

Click here to go to the Pure Vermont Award Program Home page.

If you or someone you know have been targeted by a scam, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Assistance Program toll free in Vermont at 800-649-2424, by e-mail at consumer@uvm.edu, or file a complaint on the CAP website at www.uvm.edu/consumer.

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