- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 30, 2020

COTTONWOOD, Ariz. (AP) - A 75-year-old Cottonwood man was tricked into buying thousands of dollars in gift cards as part of a scam, and authorities say he could have lost even more money.

The man told Yavapai County sheriff’s deputies that he received multiple calls from people who claimed his Social Security number was used illegally, and he needed to pay up or risk arrest. One caller posed as a Cottonwood Police Department employee and directed him to purchase gift cards to be held as evidence.

The man bought $30,000 in gift cards and provided the numbers to the callers.

He also mailed $10,000 in cash at the behest of a caller, supposedly as extra protection against a warrant, the Sheriff’s Office said. A deputy checked the tracking number and saw it hadn’t reached its destination and was able to get it returned to the man.

The office said it contacted the man’s family so they could consider a financial power of attorney to protect his money. Authorities also posted warning signs at businesses where gift cards are sold.

“These employees are the first line of defense in preventing our targeted senior population from, in many cases, wiping out their life’s savings,” the office said.

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