/ Modified jul 19, 2015 10:32 p.m.

Cochise County City Leads Country in Fraud Complaints

Sierra Vista metro area has highest complaints per capita in the U.S.



It's rare a day goes by and Cacilia Eckles-Edmond doesn't see some kind of an offer in the mail looking to con her out of money.

“Practically every day there comes an envelope," she said. "And if not every day, every second day.”

And while she knows better, her 82-year-old husband does not.

“He watches the mail come in," Eckles-Edmond said. "I mean he’s out there instantly and gets the mail and looks for these things.”

Sometimes the offers are from companies like Publishers Clearing House, offering a slim chance to win money while selling what she calls "overpriced junk."

But other letters are from scammers, making claims of riches they never intend to hand over.

Like the time last year when a letter told her husband that he had won the Jamaican lottery.

“And he got all hyper, and I said ‘where are you going?’" she said.

She said he told her he was going to get a cashier's check for $1,200 to cover the processing fee.

Eckles-Edmond ended up calling the police, and an officer talked her husband out of sending the check.

Another call she made was to the Better Business Bureau serving Southern Arizona.

“There’s really nothing new under the sun as far as scams," said the BBB's Ryan Foster. "They’re always cropping up, there usually the same but it’s just the scammers have put a little twist on them.”

Even with all the warnings, the scams still work frequently enough to keep the scammers going.

“That’s why we have to keep letting everyone know these are scams," Foster said. "Do not send money to people that you don’t know. Make sure a company that you’re giving money to is legitimate. Make sure that people who call you are who they say they are.”

Data from the Federal Trade Commission show people in the Sierra Vista/Douglas area filed 1,200 fraud complaints last year.

That’s 926.8 complaints for every 100,000 people, the highest rate anywhere in the country.

Those complaints are filed with the Arizona Attorney General’s office.

“I think the thing where our office has the most interaction with the general public is on the consumer protection side,” said Ryan Anderson of the state Attorney General's office. “They seem to target the elderly.”

In fact, of all the Arizona counties that have enough population to be included in the Federal Trade Commission report, only one is not in the top-100 list for fraud complaints, Coconino County.

Census data shows Coconino is also the only county where the percentage of seniors is below the national average.

But scammers don't limit their scams to just senior citizens.

“Just the other day, I received a call from some man," said Foster, who's 25 years old. "He said my computer had a malware problem and he needed access to it.”

Foster said scammers are looking for “people who are a little more trusting.”

And due to her husband's trusting nature, Cacilia Eckles-Edmond has had to buy a shredder.

She tells her husband to take a more festive approach to all the letters that say he's one something, turn them into confetti.

“I wonder if that’s going to happen today," she said. "If it all goes in the shredder to make confetti.”

And that's a wonder she has every day when she comes home from work. If she's coming home to fresh confetti, or a husband who is on his way to the bank to get another cashier's check.

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