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Eden Prairie Police raise alert about scammers

"For us, the hardest thing is to see these victims losing their money. Their hard-earned money," Detective John Andrews said. "It's very frustrating for us."

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — By Danny Spewak, KARE 11

Eden Prairie Police have investigated 93 reports of scams or attempted scams in the past six months alone, according to a Facebook post from the department.

The department is warning residents to be on alert, as scammers become more sophisticated in their techniques. 

Detective John Andrews, who investigates financial crimes, said scam reports aren't necessarily spiking. However, they continue to cause significant problems for residents of all ages -- not just the elderly -- and the latest numbers illustrate the problem.  

"For us, the hardest thing is to see these victims losing their money. Their hard-earned money," Andrews said. "It's very frustrating for us."

Recent cases in Eden Prairie highlight how people can lose thousands of dollars in some of these scams. 

One man lost $45,000 after he took out a loan for a person he thought was the woman he'd met on a dating site. Last year, a senior citizen lost $72,000 after falling for a phone scam that requested payment so she could earn a prize. Just a few weeks ago, a scammer posing as someone's boss swindled an employee out of $2,700.

The cases are extremely difficult to solve, Andrews said, because the scammers are able to hide financial activity in the U.S. and funnel money overseas.

"Once it leaves, it's incredibly difficult for us to recover any of that money," Andrews said.

Andrews warned people that scammers posing as the IRS will likely begin surfacing as tax season gets underway. Many of these scams involve requests for payment through gift cards, which Andrews said is an immediate red flag.

Eden Prairie Police are raising the alert, but these scams occur across the country -- not just in their jurisdiction. 

Thanks to the rise of the digital age, fraud and identity theft are among the most common crimes reported in the U.S.

"It's a battle we are losing, unfortunately," Andrews said. "The best way we can stop it from happening is to educate the public and prevent those victims from becoming victims."

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