The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has recently received a complaint of fraud from a citizen. The suspect’s made contact with the victim via telephone and told themthat their grandson had been arrested in New York State and that they needed to send bond money to secure his release. The victim sent the funds to a person in Mexico and realized that they had been the victim of a scam. The victim made contact with their grandson who was fine and had not been arrested. Since the money was sent to Mexico, it is highly unlikely that any of the victim’s money will be recovered.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office would like to offer some tips to help you avoid being the victim of fraud.
1. For calls regarding a loved one being arrested or injured in an accident; always verify with your family prior to sending any money, no matter how urgent the caller appears.
2. If someone calls you, (e.g., a telemarketer), don’t be afraid to hang up on them.
3. Stay away from deals that sound “too good to be true”.
4. Beware of deals that ask for a lot of money up front and promise sure success.
5. Don’t be taken in by miracle cures for health problems.
6. Do not agree to send money at the request of a telephone solicitor.
7. Here are some examples of common scams:
a. BOGUS CHARITIES – The senior is approached either at the door or by telephone with a request to donate to a legitimate sounding charity. Be very wary of such calls. Many so-called charities are bogus and the money is diverted directly into the pockets of the crooks.
b. HOME IMPROVEMENT SCAMS – The senior is approached normally by at least two individuals posing as contractors. The unsuspecting victim is persuaded that a roof, driveway or home needs repairs. The strangers pretend to carry out the work, which is in fact, shoddy and almost worthless.
c. THEFTS FROM WITHIN THE HOME – The senior is approached at the door by at least two individuals who use a ruse to enter the senior’s home. Such ruses are a request to use the telephone or to get a glass of water. Once inside, one of the individuals will keep the senior occupied while the other individual rummages through the senior’s personal belongings and steals cash and jewelry.
d. BANK INVESTIGATOR SCHEME – The senior is contacted outside their bank or by telephone by a stranger who identifies himself as a member of law enforcement. The stranger asks for the senior’s help in catching a dishonest bank employee. The senior is persuaded to go inside the bank to a particular teller window and withdraw a large sum of cash and then meet the “official” outside. Once the senior hands over the cash, the stranger disappears with the money.
e. SWEEPSTAKES SCAM – The senior receives a call either from Canada or from another part of the USA. The caller explains that the senior has won a substantial prize, but to collect that price, the senior must first send a money order for up to $4,000 by express mail.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office urges the community to contact the Sheriff’s Office with any questions or concerns about an offer you may have received or suspicious solicitation phone calls.