As regularly seen on the news, there are many scams committed by criminals attempting to take advantage of good people. All too often, the uninformed are falling victim to these fraudulent attempts. The crimes are being conducted over the phone, through email, and standard mail. In an effort to protect and better inform our citizens, this page is created to update you on some of the current scams that are being attempted.
When committing the scams, criminals tend to target the elderly, immigrants, and people that have less knowledge of technology. If you are contacted with what appears to be a scam, no matter how uncertain, please contact the authorities. Remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Also if you are contacted and it doesn’t seem completely legitimate, you are probably correct.
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Vanilla Sky and Other VISA Gift Card Scams
A common scam that criminals use is to contact the victim claiming the victim has some type of delinquent bill, usually for a utility. The scammer then tells the victim to obtain a Western Union money gram or VISA type gift card and contact the provided number to pay the bill. Very few legitimate businesses request that you make a payment with a gift card. The reason that criminals request this type of payment is because the money is protected from credit card companies’ fraud benefits and once the payment is made, the money cannot be recovered.
Before making any such payments, contact the company claiming the debt through a number that you know is legitimate.
With it being tax season, there is a rise in the number of scams perpetrated by offenders pretending to be the IRS. Typically, the victim is contacted by phone with someone claiming to be an IRS agent. If the fake agents do not make contact, they will leave a message claiming to be with the IRS and leave a number for the victim to return the call. The fake agent tells the victim they have a delinquent tax debt. The victim is then told to obtain a money order of some type of visa gift card to pay the debt. The fake agents will threaten the victim with arrest, garnishment, and liens if payment is not made.
Be aware! The IRS does will not contact you by phone to settle a debt. They operate through certified mail for initial contact.
Should you receive such a phone call, contact the IRS and report the fraud.
Recently, residents in Oconee County and Seneca City have received voicemails from a local number claiming the the recipient of the phone call has active warrants. When the potential victims returned the phone call, they are advised that they have outstanding warrants and fines. They are then told to bring money to the Oconee County Sheriffs Office or they can get a prepaid card or money order to take care of the charges and fines through Western Union. The potential victims are provided with a name of a supposed deputy, however no such deputy or officer exists. There is an ongoing investigation into these incidents. If you receive a similar call, please contact Seneca Police Department or Oconee County Sheriffs Office.