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Paving scammers hitting the elderly

SHELTON, WA -- A paving scam team is at work in the Puget Sound area and often targets seniors. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the age group is particularly vulnerable.

"I was an easy mark," said Vern Morgus. "Ninety years old and stupid, you know."

Morgus, who lives in Shelton, said he can't believe he'd been scammed out of a big sum of money.

"Told me I owed them $15,000," Morgus said.

Morgus said a 5-man paving crew started by making him a free offer.

"They said they have this load of material here they have to get rid of. 'Can we dump it on the drive?'" Morgus said. "I said, 'Yes, okay.'"

Instead the crew covered Morgus' 1,000-foot driveway in gravel, he said. When they handed him a $15,000 bill he said he didn't know what to do. Morgus said there'd be a $500 fee if he didn't pay in cash so he went with the man to the bank and cashed in a CD.

"They counted it in stacks of $1,000 and drove away," said Morgus.

Vern's daughter Geaneece Chase said she saw the same scam on a KOMO 4 Problem Solvers report.

"And then after seeing the news piece that Channel 4 did I thought that's exactly what happened to him," Geaneece said.

They found the address listed for the pavers in Tacoma. It was bogus. It was someone else's home.

"It scares me that they're using my address," said Casey Greek.

It's hard lesson to learn, but Attorney General Ferguson said Vern isn't alone. A lot of seniors are being scammed, he added.

"We see heartbreaking story after heartbreaking story," Ferguson said to a a group of seniors in Tacoma. He urged them to be on the lookout for all kinds of elder scams. "Whatever you do, do not go to a bank and wire money. You will not get it back," Ferguson added.

Ferguson said everyone should hold on tight to social security numbers and passwords.

"Don't give out any information about yourself. Any personal information," Ferguson said.

Ferguson's office receives about 20,000 complaints a year, he said.

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