Fraudsters often see older people as an easy target and someone they can scam. With American seniors losing more than $3 billion, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), scam-related crimes affect every community.
In fact, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) informed the public on Saturday, July 30 that a person claiming to work for that office and going by the name “Deputy Moore” had called a resident of an adjacent county, stating that the person had to pay him money to avoid having a warrant issued to him.
A WCSO press release said, “This is a scam. If someone calls you saying they work for this office and is asking or demanding money, please hang up and contact the sheriff’s office at 540-635-4128. Assistants at this office will not contact you regarding a payment due to this office. »
In Warren County last year, according to Maj. Jeff Driskill, 83 cases of fraud were reported. Six were reported by commercial entities, and the remaining 77 were reported by individuals. He said four other incidents were recorded but were not included in the total because a complainant’s age was not reported or “were not prevalent for the type of incident.”
Of these cases, 19 involved fraud or identity theft, 43 were related to fraud other than identity theft, 19 involved telephone, internet or email scams, one involved a paving scam and one related to postal fraud.
Driskill said 47 (nearly 57%) of the 83 incidents involved people over the age of 50. Only six of the reported fraud incidents involved a business, non-profit organization or government agency.
In Front Royal, there has been a flurry of activity involving scammers, according to Captain Crystal Cline of the Front Royal Police Department (FRPD). Notable cases in the last eight weeks include a case where a woman from the Front Royal received a phone call from someone claiming to be from the US Border Patrol. The caller told him that someone had created several addresses in his name and then mailed him money and/or drugs to those addresses.
The scammer told the woman there was a warrant for her arrest and she could hire a lawyer, go to Texas and dispute the warrant, or she could put money in an account that would be used by a lawyer to challenge the warrant against her. behalf.
The person asked her how much she had in the bank; she replied that she had $900. The caller then advised him to download a tracking app on his phone and withdraw all the money. After the withdrawal was made, he was advised to go to a bitcoin machine, convert the money into bitcoins and send it to the caller. After that, the person told him to max out all his credit cards and send more money.
In a case in late June, a victim received a call from someone claiming to be from the Security Services Credit Union. The woman was informed that there was a pre-approved purchase on the account through Amazon for $1,500. During the phone call, the victim granted the caller access to his computer. The caller said he would put her in touch with an Amazon representative who would cancel the purchase.
Cline said that during the call with the two subjects, the victim was informed that there were other purchases and that she would need to obtain prepaid credit cards to withdraw money from her bank account in order to stop the “crooks”. The callers were then told that they needed the prepaid card details so they could put the money into a new account for her. The victim told police she spent $7,500 to buy 15 prepaid credit cards, then gave the callers the information.
The FRPD reports that two notable cases occurred in July, including a woman receiving a phone call saying her daughter was in custody in Hanover County, and that she had to pay $16,000 before police released her. released. Since the call appeared to be from a Hanover County 911 call center, the victim did not question the veracity of the caller’s claim. She sent $15,450 in cash, via UBER, to an unknown person at an unknown address in Richmond. The victim later learned that his daughter had not been arrested.
In mid-July, a Front Royal woman was using her personal computer when a message appeared on the screen stating that the computer had been infected with a virus, and she should call the number displayed for assistance to debug his computer.
Calling the number, a man identified himself as part of Microsoft and told the victim that all of his personal information had been stolen and his bank account had also been compromised. The scammer told him to go to his bank and withdraw all his money. He was also told not to use his phone or any other device that can connect to the internet to avoid further loss.
The victim went to her bank and withdrew $15,000, after which she bought gift cards at the request of the scammer. The scammer asked him to provide the gift card redemption codes so the caller could deposit the funds into a special account to protect his money from theft.
Major Driskill and Captain Cline both say citizens should be wary of anyone calling who claims a matter needs to be dealt with immediately, especially when told to pay with an unusual payment method. Preloaded debit cards, gift cards, and virtual currencies such as Bitcoin are generally not legitimate forms of payment for amounts owed.
Anyone who receives a phone call from someone claiming to be from the person’s bank, or calling on behalf of an allegedly “troubled” friend or relative, should resist the urge to act immediately. Scammers will try to pressure their victim by claiming that time is running out. Cline says potential victims can talk to someone they trust, such as a family member, an employee of their financial institution or a financial advisor, for example.
Driskill states that people over the age of 5 are “disproportionately targeted as victims of scams and fraud compared to other age groups”.
The WCSO and FRPD encourage anyone who has been contacted by an unsolicited caller indicating that money is needed immediately to hang up and call the authorities.