National home warranty scam hits Wichita, DA warns it seems very real
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Assistant District Attorney Jason Roach is sounding the alarm on a scam going around Wichita, and says this one might be hard to spot even for a trained eye.
Roach says the scammers take time to do research and write the home warranty renewal letters with information specific only to you.
"They also figure out who your mortgage lender is, so it looks official," said Roach.
Scammers attach what looks like a check for $199 to the letters. On the front, in fine print, it says, "This is not a check." But on the back, it asks for a fingerprint, and a signature, and even says in print that it is a check.
But where they get you is when you call the number – so we did.
"Thank you for calling the warranty department," a recording says when you first call.
We told them we received the letter but didn't have the Homeowner ID Number, which apparently wasn't a problem.
"Well, let me see because I can look it up a different way," the scammer said.
After asking for our name and address.
"Okay, I did find it here now. So it looks like you did get your notice to renew the warranty on the home," said the scammer.
But here's the catch – KAKE reporter Eli Higgins doesn't own a home, never received a letter from them, and the address we gave them was the KAKE Newsroom.
After about 10 minutes on the phone, the scammer was almost ready to take our payment.
"You would put $495 down, and then do 12 monthly payments of $308," said the scammer.
After asking more questions, the call disconnected. When we called back, we told them who we were.
"The letter was provided to us by the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office because they're trying to get the word out that this scam is going around our city," Eli said to the scammer.
The worker talked to us for a few more minutes, saying she didn't know anything about a scam, but again, after asking more questions, she hung up.
Roach says this is a nationwide scam many are falling for. He says even though you might feel embarrassed if that ends up being you, the most important thing is to speak up.
"It's the old adage that when you see something, say something," said Roach.
Roach says no matter how legitimate something might seem, never feel rushed, which is how scams like this want you to feel. Always take your time, do some research, and if something smells even a little bit fishy – it probably is.