OC Sheriff’s Office issues Scams Update for May 2018

In their continuing efforts to educate and inform citizens and to prevent them from becoming victims of scams, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office releases the May 2018 Scams Update. The Sheriff’s Office received word from a victim who spoke with a deputy via the telephone regarding a loan that was applied for over the internet in which the victim provided some information and was sent an amount of money for what the victim said was a trial run. The bank cleared the checks, according to the victim, and the company told the victim to purchase some green dot cards to send the money back and they would deposit the amount for the loan. The victim purchased the green dot cards and loaded the requested amount of money onto the cards. The victim was notified by the bank that a freeze had been put on the checks after the green dot card had been sent, according to the victim. The victim is reportedly out of the money that was placed on the cards. “The Sheriff’s Office always recommends that you do your homework before you do business with any company online,” says Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Jimmy Watt. “Make sure that you are dealing with an established business that has a good reputation before you do business with them online and certainly before you provide them with any personal or financial information. As we have stated previously, legitimate businesses do not normally require any transactions or payment using pre-paid cards so if a company or individual asks you to use pre-paid cards, there is a very good chance that it is a scam.” The Sheriff’s Office also received word of a scam in which the victims told the deputy that their computer crashed and a message popped up on the screen with a phone number to call. The victim called the number and spoke with someone who claimed to be with a computer software company. The victim was instructed to send a check to an address in New York after telling the victim by the caller that he could fix the computer. The check was sent and the computer was fixed temporarily, however, the computer crashed again and a similar message popped up on the screen with a different number to call. The victim called the number and stated to the caller that money had already been sent to fix the computer but the caller claimed that they never received any money. After checking with the financial institution the victim banks with, a determination was made that the check originally sent had been cashed. The caller then told the victim to go to a business to purchase some gift cards to pay to get the computer fixed. No additional money was sent to the caller. “In previous scam updates we have issued, we have reminded our citizens not to allow anyone to have remote access to their computers,” says PIO Watt. “Also, if someone calls or you see a pop-up window on your screen stating your computer is infected with a virus or your computer is crashed, do not make contact with the company that is calling or contacting you and do not provide them any money or financial information. Take your computer to a reputable computer repair store to have it serviced. Only provide payment to a reputable software or technology company when you initiate the call or purchase software or items from that company. Anyone who has unauthorized access to your computer can place viruses or malware on your computer and this might also allow them access to other vital information.” The Sheriff’s Office also received word from a couple of citizens regarding a phone call and a message they received regarding an Internal Revenue Service scam. In one of those calls, the citizen was left a voice message stating an arrest warrant had been issued against the citizen and threatened a lawsuit unless the citizen contacted a toll free number. “As we have stated in previous releases, the Internal Revenue Service will contact you by mail should they need to reach you regarding your tax situation and never call you by phone and never make any threats to arrest you or sue you by phone,” according to PIO Watt. “If you should receive a phone call like and want to report this scam, the best way to do that would be to contact the Internal Revenue Service directly at 1-800-829-1040 or go online to the website of The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/ to report an IRS scam online.” The Sheriff’s Office also received word from a citizen who went online to apply for a loan and received a check in the mail which was for an amount more than the amount of money she was seeking in the loan. She was instructed to deposit the check, keep the amount she needed and then send the remaining amount to an address in New York. She did as instructed and later discovered that she owed money to the bank since the check that was deposited was fraudulent. “One sign of a possible scam is someone asking you to deposit money into an account you have and then asking you to send some of that money to another address,” says PIO Watt. “Bear in mind that you are the person who bears responsibility when you deposit a check into your account and when that check turns out to be fake, you will bear the responsibility for any money owed to your financial institution. Once again, do your homework when applying for a loan online or anywhere and only deal with reputable companies.” The Sheriff’s Office wants to remind you to never provide personal or financial information to anyone who requests it that you do not do business with. Companies and businesses that you do business with will already have that information and if you receive an e-mail from a financial or governmental institution asking for personal information, it is more than likely a scam.