BISMARCK — Three Bismarck-area residents have been bilked out of a total of $31,000 by phone scammers in the past week, prompting Bismarck police to tell people to hang up and report any such calls to authorities.

“If anybody is asking you for money over the phone, use caution,” Lt. Luke Gardiner said. “If you have suspicions, call the police department and we’ll see what we can do to help you.”

Gardiner provided the following details:

  • A 90-year-old Bismarck woman received a call last week from someone claiming to be her granddaughter. The caller asked for $15,000 to get out of jail. The woman sent $1,500 by overnight delivery to an address in Virginia. She received another call asking for the rest of the money, which she sent in the same manner.
  • Sometime between last Thursday and Tuesday, an 80-year-old Bismarck man was contacted by someone posing as a worker with a computer services company. He sent $10,000 in cash, and another $3,000 in Best Buy and Target gift cards.
  • A Washburn woman on Monday received a call from someone who said there was a problem with her Social Security number. At the request of the caller the woman, 73, sent $3,000 in Walmart gift cards.

Separately, the North Dakota Department of Human Services on Wednesday warned Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program households about a telephone scam that is targeting food stamp program benefits. A caller indicates that a person or household will lose SNAP benefits because they owe the program money. The caller provides a telephone number the person should call to pay back the money using a credit card or another form of payment.

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SNAP households are asked to notify their county social service office if they receive such a call. County contact information is available online at

North Dakotans who have questions about scams or want to learn more about scam prevention can contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-472-2600, 701-328-3404 or visit