Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Issues December 2020 Scams Update

In our continuing efforts to educate and inform our citizens and to prevent them from becoming victims of scams, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is releasing today our December 2020 Scams Update.

A deputy spoke with a victim of a scam in which the victim said that he noticed a recent charge to his bank account. The charge was in the amount of $1,100 from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. The victim contacted the SCDMV and was told that they had no record of the charge. The victim was then told by an employee of the fraud department at the SCDMV on November 23rd that they had received three complaints of the same nature during the previous two business days.

The deputy completed a victim’s form and a financial crimes supplemental form and made arrangements to gather other evidence in the case.

“This particular scam should remind us that we need to keep a tab on our banking and financial accounts to find any irregularities, like this citizen did,” says Master Deputy Jimmy Watt, Public Information Officer for the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. “Also, it is a good idea to check on your credit reports for irregularities and you can receive one free credit report yearly from each of the three credit reporting agencies by going to www.annualcreditreport.com. Also, if you are a victim of fraud and you have suffered a financial loss, it is a good idea to file a report with a law enforcement agency. In some cases, a financial institution or another agency involved may require this before they begin an investigation on their end.”

The Sheriff’s Office spoke with a victim who told the deputy that she was messaged on social media by someone who appeared to be a friend of hers from out of state. The individual sent a link to buy gift cards and then told the victim that she could make money by selling them. The victim paid $10 through a cash app and then an additional $5 dollars in order to make more with the promise that the victim could make $100 dollars in return.

The victim was sent a code in an e-mail in order to verify her information. The code was given; whereupon the victim’s social media accounts were accessed. The victim was locked out of the accounts and in order for the victim to gain access to that account, a payment of $200 was required. The victim contacted law enforcement and the social media website to report that her account had been hacked. The victim notified her bank as well.

“One trick of a scammer is to make an offer in which it appears that you are getting something for nothing,” continues Master Deputy Watt. “If you receive an e-mail, text or instant message on social media from a friend or family member with some type of offer or they need money for some reason, take some time to speak directly to that person in order to verify that it is them. A few second or minutes can save you trouble in the long run or prevent you from suffering financial loss. As we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and many are struggling to make ends meet, please be aware of these types of scams that some may fall prey to in order to make money.”

The Sheriff’s Office was made aware of a scam in which the victim was scammed out of approximately $19,000. The victim was contacted by an individual who claimed to be from Amazon, who then told the victim that the victim’s account had multiple charges and she would need to purchase gift cards to pay the debt.

The victim purchased multiple gift cards and then gave the gift card information to the person who contacted her. After being told that it was a scam, the victim began reaching out to her credit card companies in order for her cards to be cancelled. The phone number that the victim was initially contacted from was called and the call went to a “text now” voice mail.

“As we have mentioned previously, legitimate businesses will not require payment to be made using a prepaid or a gift card,” says Master Deputy Watt. “If someone requests payment to be made this way, it is a scam. Also, if someone calls from a business who claims you owe thousands of dollars, hang up the phone and place the call to that business directly yourself to verify these claims.”