How to spot a scam: Advice from a local sheriff’s office

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Unknown caller. A man holds a phone in his hand and thinks to end the call. Incoming from an unknown number. Incognito or anonymous

SCIOTO COUNTY, OH (WOWK)—The Scioto County Sheriff’s Office is yet again warning citizens about the ongoing phone call and text message scams in which scammers pretend to be associated with law enforcement.

Sheriff David Thoroughman says that his office keeps being contacted by citizens reporting the scam.

Sometimes, these scammers will leave voicemails. Below is a transcribed example of one of these such messages:

Sample of voicemail scam

In these cases, the caller claims to be from the Sheriff’s Department and tells citizens that in order to avoid having a warrant issued for their arrest, they have to go to Walmart, purchase pre-paid gift cards, and send them the info on the cards.

The Sheriff’s Department also provided some tips on how to avoid a scam:

  1. AUTHORITY: They will pretend to be part of the government, saying they’re from the Social Security Administration, the IRS or Medicare. Sometimes, they will pretend to be from a business like a utility company, or they will even make up a name that sounds official.
  2. PROBLEM OR PRIZE: Most scams will follow one of these two patterns. Scammers will try to convince you that you are in trouble. They’ll say you owe money or that someone in your family has been involved in an emergency. They may even tell you there’s a virus on your computer or that there’s a problem with one of your accounts in an attempt to get you to give them private information. And, of course, some will tell you that you won the lottery or a sweepstakes but have to pay a fee to receive the funds.
  3. PRESSURE: The more high-pressure a phone call, the more likely it is a scam. Scammers don’t want you to have time to think before you do what they’re trying to get you to do. They may threaten you with arrest or malware on your computer. Remember that no legitimate organization will ever threaten you.
  4. PAYMENT: Scammers will usually try to get money from you in an odd way. They may ask you to purchase gift cards and give them the number on the back. They may ask you to use a money transfer service. They may also send you a fake check and tell you to deposit it and then send them money. None of these are legitimate ways that law enforcement or other government entities will ask for payment.

Before sending money to anyone, please stop and talk to a trusted friend or family member about the situation. Another set of eyes might keep you from getting scammed.

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