Crime Watch

Hurricane season is starting; it’s time to get ready


Special to The Miami Herald

Folks, this weekend marks the start hurricane season. Are you prepared? Although everyone says “oh, we aren’t going to get hit,” I don’t think that way, because it only takes one hit to make a big mess. Remember Andrew?

Today is the day you need to start making those plans with your family. Do you have the necessary tools and food? Have you made a master plan to notifying family members outside of our State? Have you thought what to do with your pet? Are you in an evacuation zone? Do you know where the Shelters are located and which one takes pets? Please start planning by visiting They have all the information you need so that you don’t get caught at the last minute with no information on what to do.

This past week I received an email from another columnist who a reader had reached out to her and she wanted me to share with my readers, so that they don’t fall for the same scam. This came from Friends & Neighbors columnist Christina Mayo:

One of my readers who is elderly suggested I find a way to get some information out there for other unsuspecting Miami-Dade residents. She told me she is "not worldly" but still can't believe she was scammed in this way. She is 87 and her husband is 93. They still live in their own home in Kendall.

She told me she was called and told she had won $30,000 in the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes. She didn't tell her husband because she wanted to surprise him with the money. They have always mailed back the Sweepstakes forms.

The caller asked her some contact questions and told her the team would be at her home to film her and her husband as winners the next day. He was very convincing, apparently, and she went for it. He told her to go to Walgreens and buy a "green" money card for $499 and that he would call back for the number on the back. When she asked why, he said she would get it back with the $30,000.

You and I would immediately hang up, but as an elderly, trusting person she did it — twice. He told her to go to different Walgreens stores. The third time, she returned to the first Walgreens and the cashiers and store manager realized what was happening to her and called the police. She was so convinced she had won, that even the store personnel and police officers had a hard time convincing her what had happened.

The scammers have continued to call her and recently they threatened to come to their home to "cut their throats." They have been in touch with the police, but have been told there is nothing more that can be done. So, not only did she lose $1,000 and her pride, she lost her sense of security.

She does not want her name in the paper but she wants to warn other elderly persons to not fall for these guys. She and her husband, who obviously knows now, are scared to answer their home phone. They use their cell phone for now. If you can, help her by helping others. I think she just wants to make sure something good comes out of her bad experience.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.

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