The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office has seen a higher than usual number of fraud reports in 2020, according to Lt. Brendan Kane.
Scammers target people through both phone and email, often asking the person to purchase gift cards with large sums of money and give them the card information. The gift cards are usually for stores like Best Buy and Target, Kane said.
These scammers often pretend to be people in positions of authority, like law enforcement, attorneys, or the Internal Revenue Service. The scammer will tell a compelling story in order to gain access to a person’s bank accounts and other sensitive information.
Some of the scams can be very elaborate and convincing, and people of all ages can be susceptible, according to Det. Sgt. Ron Rollins.
In one recent report the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office received, a man received a call from a scammer pretending to be an attorney, claiming that the man’s daughter had been arrested and needed bail money. The scammer told the man to withdraw $15,000 from his bank account and then call back for further instructions. After hanging up, the man called his daughter, who told him she had not been arrested, and the man called the police.
In other scenarios, a scammer will say they are a police officer and tell a person that a car has been found in another state at a crime scene. The scammer will say that the car was connected to the person’s information, and that they need additional identifying information to clear their name.
“We get these periodically from senior citizens, but these scams are hitting younger people too,” Kane said. “They come up with some pretty elaborate ruses.”
Kane said that law enforcement will not ask someone for money, personal information, or gift cards over the phone. If someone receives a call like that, they should report it to local law enforcement.
According to Kane, the scam calls come from all over the country, and are difficult to track.
To prevent identity theft or financial loss, Kane recommends that people do not rush into decisions. Scammers will make a situation seem urgent, and someone who receives a call should “do their due diligence” and research the caller.
Some victims have lost over $10,000 to these scams. Kane said that if a person believes they have been scammed, they should call the police or file a report with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.