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Double check. Double check. Double check. 

That was the message Quad-Cities residents heard Monday night from the Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen and Iowa Attorney General’s Office Investigator Al Perales on how to spot red flags and avoid being swindled by what are becoming increasingly complicated scams. 

Common scams pull on people’s emotions, Perales said. A scammer might pretend to be a child or grandchild in distress, a romantic interest, a lottery official or a law enforcement officer. Those impersonating law enforcement often try to convince the target that their bank account is associated with criminal activity and they need to “protect” their assets by withdrawing them and turning over the cash to a stranger or risk being arrested. 

“Remember TIP,” said Perales. “Because a scammer will want to introduce a Threat, they’re going want to bring Immediacy, and they’re going to ask for Payment.” 

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Law enforcement agents won’t threaten arrest for refusing to give information or payment over the phone, according to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. Nor will they ask you to keep your conversation secret.  

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Americans reported losing $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022, up 30% from the previous year. 

In 2023, Iowans lost $42.6 million to fraud, with 19,673 reports made, according to the FTC’s 2023 annual data book. The median amount lost to fraud was $401. 

Iowa Insurance Commissioner Doug Ommen talks about common scams and how to avoid them Monday, March 4, 2024, at the River Center in Davenport. 

To help educate Iowans and prevent fraud, the Iowa Department of Insurance and Financial Services, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and AARP Iowa launched an 18-stop tour to educate Iowans about common types of scams in the state and how people can protect themselves.

The “roadshow” stopped in Davenport Monday night at the River Center. 

“We know that prevention of fraud is our best defense because once a fraud has occurred it does create a lot of challenges for us to bring people to justice,” Ommen said. “So that’s why we’re here.” 

Perales told several anonymous stories of Iowans who reported fraud to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. 

In one case, a scammer sent a Delmar woman an email telling her she ordered an iPhone. She hadn’t, so she called the number listed in the email to cancel the order. She thought she was talking to Amazon. The person on the phone was nice, telling her they would take care of the problem.

Then it changed. They asked whether she was trying to buy a laptop. She said no. They said there might be something wrong with her account, and it may be tied to criminal activity. The person transferred her to someone who was supposedly a DEA agent, who scared her and told her she was in trouble. They asked how much she had in savings, and said in order to “protect” her assets, they needed her to go to her bank, retrieve the $20,000 she had in savings, put it in a box and ship it to California, where it would be “protected by the U.S. Treasury.”

“The next morning she called and she told me the story and she told me she sent it out of Eldridge, Iowa, at the UPS store,” Perales said.

He worked with the UPS store to stop the package and get the woman her money back, he said.


Al Perales, an investigator with the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, told stories about anonymous victims of scams his office has helped in the Quad-Cities on Monday, March 4, 2024, at the River Center in Davenport. 

“I wanted to tell you guys this because it just wasn’t the Amazon scam,” Perales said. “Scammers know how to trick you. This scam started out with the voice of calm, the voice of helping, a voice of comfort, a voice of trying to fix a problem, and it turned around, and turned into a voice that frightened her and worried her.” 

The Iowa Insurance Division also regulates investments in the state, and Ommen told the Monday-night crowd to take care to learn financial advisors’ credentials.

“All financial professionals that do business in our state have to go through testing and licensing,” Ommen said. 

He advised residents to be educated on what they’re investing in and be wary of high-yield promises and unregistered investments. 

He urged Iowans to report any potential investment fraud to the Iowa Insurance Division and any other types of consumer fraud to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office to be able to investigate suspicious actors and protect others.

Scams have increased with ease of access to technology and information scammers can use to manipulate people.  

“That’s the increase we’re seeing is the ease of technology is giving access to consumers — social media and all of that, just the ability to learn about people,” Ommen said. “…Scammers can go in and they can learn pretty good detail about a lot of people, so when they contact the individual, they’re in a really good position to develop a quick relationship.” 

Residents can submit a complaint at:

  • Iowa Attorney General’s Office website or by calling 515-281-5926.
  • Iowa Insurance Division website or by calling 515-654-6600.


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