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Scam threatens Social Security

FD woman, 86, almost snared by certified mail ploy

February 20, 2009
By KATIE WILLIAMS, Messenger staff writer

"This certified letter is your official notice that you are personally under attack."

Julia Markey, 86, of Fort Dodge, received a letter from the National Retirement Security Task Force Thursday that told her the Social Security Trust Fund didn't have money and that she could lose her Social Security checks.

That is, of course, unless she helped the National Retirement Security Task Force by sending it money so it could continue to lobby against the "liberal big-spenders" to ensure she can continue to get funds.

"And if I don't receive your generous $200 help within the next 168 hours, I may not have enough reserve battle funds to carry on this fight for your Social Security," the letter stated.

Alan Markey, of Fort Dodge, was with his mother when she received the letter. He couldn't believe what he was reading, he said.

"This is a scare tactic, is what it is," he said. "This is a scary letter for anyone who thinks they will lose their Social Security."

And his mother was scared, he said.

"She started writing the check for $200," Alan Markey said. "I told her not to, but she said 'I have to.' She was so scared."

The letter was so official-looking, it even arrived by certified mail.

"We had to sign for it, which makes it seem more official," he said.

Alan Markey said he worked for the United States Postal Service for 34 years before he retired and he has seen a lot of scams go through the mail on bulk rates.

"But I've never seen one certified," he said.

Luke Fleener, detective for the Webster County Sheriff's Department, said scams promising money have been popping up in Webster County recently.

Many of the scams involve sending an official-looking check telling the recipient to cash the check as part of prize winnings and send a payment for the taxes, he said.

"Anything that you need to send money to should send up a red flag," Fleener said.

Other letters tell a person that they have a package waiting for them, but that they need to pay to have it delivered.

"There is no package," he said.

Bob Brammer, with the Iowa Attorney General's office, said it has received complaints two or three times a year about such scams.

"You don't have to give a contribution to their organization," he said. "I would even recommend that you don't."

He said scams like the one Julia Markey received try to scare people into giving donations and use questionable tactics to get what they want.

To file a complaint about a scam, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at the Hoover State Office Building, Des Moines, IA 50319, or call 281-5926.

Contact Katie Williams at (515) 573-2141 or



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