You’ve Won! Send Money To Claim Your Prize – NOT!

By Jessica Espinoza, Editor Crawford Clipper-Harrison Sun and Deputy Jeanie Melton, Dawes County Sheriff Office

You’ve won a prize, please send money to claim your prize…One of the scams that have been hitting the area. The Dawes County Sheriff’s Office would like to make the citizens aware of some recent scams that have occurred in our community and would like the community to have some information to be aware of.

Just recently, the Dawes County Sheriff’s Office was contacted in reference to a situation that involved an elderly person that was involved in a scam. This situation is being announced to show the new tactics and the aggressive schemes they are elevating to, besides just the irritating phone calls.

An elderly person was in contact with some scammers and had sent them some money. The scammers continued to call them and advised them that they had won a new car. All they had to do is send a few thousand dollars and the car would arrive.

This individual sent a money order and had also given them the last four numbers of their social security number. After this, the individual kept receiving phone calls, but they would not answer the scammers. So, the scammers called a local business in Crawford at 8 a.m. to request a pizza be delivered to this individual’s home.

When the delivery person made contact, the delivery person was to call the phone number that the scammers gave them and put this individual on the phone. The scammers told the pizza business that this individual was their relative and they were worried because they had not heard from them and that they were not answering the phone.

The business became suspicious and decided to contact the individual’s relative to check on them. At this time, they contacted the Dawes County Sheriff’s Office. The Deputy contacted the individual and upon investigating found that the individual had not entered in any “give-a-way contest” or “chance to win something” contest.

While the Deputy was with the individual, they received another phone call, so the Deputy answered the call not identifying themselves as a Deputy. Throughout the conversation the caller requested several times to speak with the individual and was becoming persistent and agitated that the Deputy would not allow them to speak with them.

When the Deputy finally identified themselves as being a Deputy with the Dawes County Sheriff’s Office, the caller began to use foul language and became more agitated.

The Deputy continued to speak with the caller and invited the caller to come meet with them if they didn’t believe they were a Sheriff’s Deputy and the caller then hung up. The business continued to receive numerous calls from the scammers throughout the morning. Efforts were being made to stop the money order.

Another Crawford resident was contacted before Christmas about winning a large sum of money. They were instructed to go and buy “gift cards” and then to call back and give the caller the information from the gift cards and they would be sent their prize. This is also a scam. You “will not” receive any money.

A local business was contacted by a “utility” company. They were told their account was past due and would have service disconnected unless the amount due was paid immediately.

The business owner initially believed this phone call and bought “money cards” and gave the scammers the numbers on the money cards. They then thought about it a little more, contacted the utility company about the debt and was told their account shows they were up to date on their bill.

Other scams that seem to be very popular are:

•Phone calls that represent themselves as the IRS and that you owe huge amounts of money and that extreme measures will be taken against you such as being arrested, if you do not pay.

•Scammers calling and representing themselves as Law Enforcement and they are calling you because your loved one was in jail and needed bond money or that you have a warrant and need money to clear the warrant.

•Scammers calling and identifying themselves as law enforcement or some kind of official and that your love one was hurt in an accident and needed some money.

•Scammers calling and identifying themselves as the Social Security Administration and that your social security number has been compromised.

•Scammers calling and identifying themselves as Amazon and that your account has been compromised and to correct this issue, they are requiring you buy money cards and give them the numbers on the back to fix your account. They will advise you that you will get this money back.

These are scams that have been circulating in the area. Most scammers like to target the elderly and they are now implementing businesses to help carry out their scam. They do everything they can to appear as valid and legitimate as possible. It is not just the elderly. Individuals of all ages are receiving these calls.

Back in the day, answering your phone was just the thing to do. There were no worries of scammers; maybe just a prank call from kids at times was the most irritating call we received. But now, this system of scam calls occurs every day.

These scam phone calls generate billions of dollars and support organizations involving terrorism, drugs and many other illegal crimes. The systems in which these scammers operate are highly organized, discrete, and sophisticated.

The following information is just some of the information you need to know.

1. If you are purchasing a money order, especially a large amount and especially if being sent to a foreign country or an address on the coasts, the Post Office, Western Union, and bank staff will be asking questions regarding the purchase of this money order. Please keep in mind that they are not infringing on your privacy but trying to protect you from possible scams. They are asking these questions to protect you, your identity, and your finances.

2. If you did not enter a contest, you did not win!

3. If you are asked to send money to receive your prize, you are not a winner. If you did enter a contest and are truly are a winner, you will never be asked to send money to claim your prize.

4. If you do not recognize the phone number, name of the caller, or appears as an “unknown caller” on the caller id, do not answer the call. Especially if the phone call shows they are from places like Jamaica, India, or states that you have nothing to do with. If a call is legitimate, they can leave a phone message.

5. NEVER give out personal information. Never give out your social security number (even the last four numbers), bank account number or credit card numbers. If you’ve been contacted and told you owe money for utilities, past due bills or anything of the sort, hang up the phone and then you initiate the call to that entity to check on the issue.

6. Pay attention to how well the caller speaks. Listen for accents and how well they speak or pronounce words in English. Most scammer calls come from overseas.

7. Once they have you on the phone, it is difficult to get rid of them. Especially if you have fallen for their game and have given them money or indicate to them that you will send them money. They will keep targeting you.

8. Law enforcement will never call you asking for money. This includes bond money or warrant money.

9. Hospitals, Law Enforcement or any other agency will not call you asking for money if your loved one has been hurt.

10. The IRS never calls ANYONE!!! And they don’t want money from money cards. Their correspondence is by mail.

11. Social Security Administration never calls ANYONE!!!! Do not give them your social security number to verify anything.

12. Businesses, hospitals, law enforcement, utilities companies, IRS, Social Security or anyone really, will not ask you to buy money cards like E-bay cards, Amazon cards, Walmart cards, and have you give them the number on the back of them.

13. If you place an advertisement selling an item such as a car, and you receive notice from someone expressing an interest in the item you’re selling and wants to send you more money than you are asking for, don’t do it. They indicate that they will send you a money order for more than your asking price and want you to cash the money order. Then you are to take your asking price and send the rest to a “pick up person” that will arrive at a later date to get your item. The scammers will tell you that the extra money is for the pick-up person to use to deliver the item. The money order is fake, and you will be responsible to the bank for the amount of the money order.

These scammers prey on your sympathies, and your hopes of winning. They use scare tactics and are extremely aggressive. They are becoming more and more aggressive and persistent and use extreme measures to get your attention and to BELIEVE them.

They will start by giving you false ultimatums of what will happen to you if you do not comply. For example: You will be arrested. You will have felony charges against you. Your hurt loved one is in dire need of money. Your bank accounts will be seized. There will be a warrant for your arrest or something similar.

If you receive these calls and are not sure of their legitimacy, please don’t hesitate to speak with proper authorities, people you trust, your local law enforcement agency or your bank before giving them any information. Don’t be embarrassed, they are targeting everyone!

Remember, if it sounds TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, it is! When in doubt, check it out!