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After spouse scammed, Utah lawmaker prepares anti-fraud response

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Rep. Kyle Anderson, R-North Ogden, and his wife, Machel, were at the Capitol on Thursday, and spoke to 2News about a painful rip-off in which they said they lost more than $150,000. (Photo: KUTV)

Scammers struck his family; now a Utah legislator aims to strike back with a new state law.

Rep. Kyle Anderson, R-North Ogden, and his wife, Machel, were at the Capitol on Thursday, and spoke to 2News about a painful rip-off in which they said they lost more than $150,000.

“It is embarrassing,” said Machel. “It’s humiliating, actually, but we don’t want anyone else to have to go through this.“

It happened, she said, when she received phone calls and texts from people who said they were with the Social Security Administration.

“They asked me to look them up on the Social Security website, and I did,” Machel said. “I found their names.”

And she said they proceeded to make a series of claims: that a drug cartel had breached the Andersons' accounts, that their money was threatened unless they wired funds to another account, that her family members could be threatened.

“They said the drug cartel was very aware of me,“ said Machel, “they were watching me.“

They also told her not to tell anyone, and the contact happened at a time when she had extraordinary responsibilities, and emotions were tender.

“She would normally never fall for anything like that,“ said Rep. Anderson, who thinks if could it happen to his spouse and family, others are vulnerable.

So now, he has a new bill, "Financial Exploitation Amendments," that has not yet been released — but will require banks and credit unions to inform people on wire scams prior to hitting send on international wire transfers.

“Before an international wire transfer, a financial institution would have to tell you these are the scams that are going on. Are you sure you want to do this?“ 2News asked.

“Exactly, and to ask them some other questions,“ said Rep. Anderson. “Have you been contacted by somebody? Have you been threatened? Is the government contacting you?“

Those questions may be critical because government agencies typically say they never call, and never threaten over the phone.

Advocates for seniors are supporting Rep. Anderson’s proposal.