It sounds like a dream. You pick up the phone and someone informs you that you just won the lottery. While many are savvy to the current scams, there are still people out there who end up giving out financial information and find their finances have been wiped out.
There’s a common theme that seems to come with many of these scams. Promises that if you cash that check and send something back, if you pay a small fee, or if you transfer money you will be the recipient of money. Many of these schemes prey off the naïve and often seniors.
Kathy Granger, who works for the Glasgow Police Department, recently found herself part of some type of fraud. Her debit card was used in St. Louis, and $500 was taken from her account. Luckily her local bank has been working with her to help out in the situation. She explained the situation as being very unsettling.
Granger also works at the police department and talks to many locals after they’ve been scammed.
“People have lost money, in many cases thousands of dollars,” Granger said.
A local scam that has taken money from several people are deals on Craigslist. A new car at a steal of a deal, located at a Glasgow address, that ends up being an empty lot. People send their money before setting their eyes on the merchandise, often wiring it by Western Union.
Other scams that Granger has collected in her scam file, have included cashing a check, or depositing it in your account and sending some of the funds back to a person. That check is often a fake. Or as Undersheriff Vernon Buerkle added, the check could be legitimate, but it’s stolen and has been altered.
If a dead rich relative that you didn’t know about has suddenly left behind funds for you, if you have to spend money to get money, or if it sounds too good to be true, you should be highly suspicious. Unfortunately there isn’t much that local law enforcement can do in these situations. Granger said that she refers every person that comes through the door to the FBI website, where they can report the crimes. You can visit http://www.ic3.gov to enter the complaint. She’s encourages everyone to report any scams they may find.
“Maybe, just maybe, if we can all report on one person doing it, we can catch them,” Granger said. “There’s just not enough manpower for the FBI to investigate all these crimes.”
The FBI has been flooded with scam complaints, many leading to out of the country. They just don’t have the time or resources to follow every lead so it’s up to the public to be suspicious and vigilant.
Granger said that those who are in a financial pinch are more susceptible to the scams. They so desperately want a way out that they decide to move forward, believing that luck is finally on their side.
Another alarming scam took place in the last week in Valley County and has occurred several times before. A phone call comes in alerting you that your family members are in jail, stranded out of the country and in dire need of emergency money.
Granger said that the incident happened in her family as well. It shook up her mother, who received a call from her grandson who said he was stuck in Canada and needed help. Luckily she hung up the phone and decided to check and see if he was actually out of country. Turned out he wasn’t. Others have lost thousands of dollars in the scam. Often times the money can’t be recovered.
The county received over five calls in the last week on scams. The scams seem to come in cycles, some weeks busier than others.
Sharlene Clark from Independence Bank in Glasgow said that electronic fraud is being found regularly. She said debit cards are being used in other states, and internet shopping is something that you need to be careful about, checking that sites are secure before making a purchase.
“The most common one we see here is using a debit card number when shopping online and somehow they get that number,” Clark said.
Another employee at Independence Bank, Trish Collins, explained that bank employees spent the past few months replacing several cards after the Target breach. She warned that they are also seeing customers who have given out a bank account number to get winnings from the lottery.
Collins said that a majority of the customers call the bank first and alert them before taking action, which has helped save them.
The common theme heard from all local enforcement is that if it sounds too easy, or a little suspicious be very careful on giving out any personal information or money.