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West District Blotter

Phone Scams

April 1, 2013 9:59 AM

A number of West District citizens have been the victims of financial scams in recent weeks. These scams can take several forms:

  • A stranger calls and notifies the citizen that he/she has won a large prize (cash, a car, etc.), but that they need to send in a fee to collect their prize. The victim is instructed to send the money via Western Union or through a Walmart Moneygram.
  • A stranger calls and identifies themselves as a law enforcement officer. The citizen is informed that he/she is the subject of a civil judgment or collection, and that they have a short time (a few hours) to satisfy the judgment or else an arrest warrant will be issued. The payment instructions are also typically through Western Union or Walmart Moneygram.
  • A stranger calls and indicates that a family member is out of the country and in some type of trouble (typically medically or legal). The citizen - often a grandparent - is told that they need to wire money immediately to help the family member.

Please be aware of these scams and avoid being victimized. For the first version, remember the old adage that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It is very unlikely that you will win a prize for something you haven't entered, or that you would have to pay a fee to collect a prize. As for the second version of the scam, law enforcement personnel will not behave in this way...we do not assist with debt collections, and would not seek payment in lieu of an arrest warrant being issued.

The perpetrators in these cases are difficult to identify and are often out of state, so it is unlikely that money lost as a result will ever be recovered. Be skeptical of strangers calling and asking for money. If you think such a call might be legitimate but aren't sure, ask to call the person back at a verified number to confirm their identity.

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