While scammers have been around for a while local law enforcement warns the community of the threat and how to prevent becoming a victim.
While many cell phones will notify users of suspected spam callers, law enforcement officials from Alamo Police Department (APD), Bells Police Department (BPD) and the Crockett County Sheriffs’ Department (CCSD) bring awareness to the community.
At APD, Chief of Police Brad York explained three major cases of phone scam theft over the past two months.
In late November, one ladies account became over drawn by approximately $7,000 after she received a series of phone calls from individuals who had her personal information as well as her deceased husbands information. She received instructions as well as threats from the caller. She was advised that she needed to pay a certain amount of money to cover legal fees and other fees for her to receive money she was entitled to. The scammers went to the extent of holding a three-way phone conversation where they represented themselves as an attorney and a person from the social security administration. The victim in this case estimated that she had been scammed out of approximately $50,000 in a two-year period.
She also received threats of the caller contacting the IRS.
In January, APD Assistant Police Chief Donelda Clayton received a report of a fake sweepstakes scam. The Publishers Clearinghouse Scam reported a name and identification number to the victim and congratulated her on winning a $850,000 check, $25,000 in cash and a 2019 Ford Fusion.
The victim was told to send money to claim her prize. She mailed a $650 money order to the address advised and then received a call the next day requesting 1% of her total winnings be mailed. The victim then mailed another $2,200 in the form of three money orders.
Three days later, the caller advised the victim she would need to send $8,000 cash. After withdrawing the money, and unsuccessfully purchasing a tracking number with a large amount of insurance coverage, she returned home without mailing the package. The caller contacted her again and after a series of remarks the victim realized she was being scammed and reported the incident to the police department.
This week another woman receiving a Publisher’s Clearing House call also fell victim to the scammers. She was advised she had won $2,000,000 and because she does subscribe and receive things from Publishers Clearing House, she believed it was true. She was advised that she would receive another phone call to claim her money. She then obtained two visa cards for $500 each and called the person back with the numbers on the card. She was then instructed to get another $200 card because she had won a brand new truck and he had to stop in Bells and Friendship before he would drive the truck to her house.
After not arriving with the vehicle the caller contacted her again stating he was busy an unable to deliver the truck and instructed her to send $1,000. When she went to withdraw the money from the bank, the bank told her to report what happened to the police department.
While scams such as these have been around for a while and happen frequent, local departments want to warn people of the dangers of scamming operations.
York said, “we hope that getting the word out, will keep others from sending money to these scammers.”
While Publishers Clearing House was a common occurrence in these cases, other scamming problems included people claiming to be with the IRS or police department
CCSD investigator Roy Mosier said, “do not give someone you don’t know money for the promise that you will receive a larger sum of money. That should be the first clue that it is a scam.”
BPD had not recently received any complaints of anyone becoming a victim of scams but rather questioning whether a call was a scam.
The common thread among all scam calls was that they would have the victim send money by a green dot card, prepaid card, money order, cashiers checks, Itunes card and even cash payments to an address that leads to no one.
According to Mosier, the people who are making the phone calls in these scam are typically the middleman in an elaborate scheme. It’s nearly impossible to retrieve money lost in these situations.
A lot of the times, the callers will already have information about the person they are calling. Due to the increase in social media activity over the past several years, people tend to share more personal information publicly and the scammers have access to that. They may know the names of friends, of life events, and more simply because they have done research.
The consensus among all departments was to not give money in anyway to anyone that you did not seek out first or do not already knowingly owe money to.
If a callers intentions are questionable or sound too good to be true, do not send money or give out personal information such as a social security number or bank account information.