ST. ANN, Mo. – The St. Ann Police Department reported two scams within a 24-hour period this week that resulted in victims losing thousands of dollars. One of the targets was a business located in St. Ann. The other victim was a resident.

“It is very heartbreaking because you’re talking about thousands of dollars,” Det. Lt. Monica Ruelas, St. Ann Police Department, said.

She said in some cases, fraudsters have pretended to be a corporate leader with a business and ordered workers to convert cash to Bitcoin. Once the conversion is completed, the money is gone.

Ruelas said the most recent case involved a caller pretending to be a mail service courier. They conned a St. Ann business out of thousands of dollars.

In a separate case involving a St. Ann resident, the victim received a text message followed by a phone call asking to set up an investment fund. Police say never click on a link from a text or email unless you are certain who sent the message.

Ruelas said fraudsters are also using artificial intelligence to generate phone calls, which are difficult to trace back to their source. Her department is determined to find those responsible and encourages victims to come forward. In some cases, police can stop the crime before it’s too late.

“We can maybe even stop that transaction from going through or stop any further transactions from going through just by being able to investigate those cases,” Ruelas said.

We’ve reported in the past on a scam involving callers pretending to be a grandchild in need of help. Ruelas suggests having a safe word within your family to know if the caller really is a relative. If the caller does not know the safe word, that can help identify a scam.

The St. Ann Police Department encourages residents to follow information shared by the department on social media regarding scams and tips for avoiding them.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations also provides information to avoid scams and help victims.