FROM THE SHERIFF'S DESK: Avoiding scams, fraud, flim-flam

Seldom does a week go by that we don’t receive a call from a citizen who has received some mail, fax, telephone call or email about receiving money, winning money or sending money, and many have concerns that these may be some kind of scam. Unfortunately, some of these victims are calling us AFTER they have sent the money.

The old rule of thumb, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” always applies. I have a collection of mail and email letters where “Award Notification,” “Lottery Payment Processing Form,” “Claims Center Notification,” “USA Survey Network” (and the list goes on and on), have contacted local citizens congratulating them on being the winner of some drawing or out-of-state lottery. They will often enclose a “processing fee” check, made out to the “winner” then ask them to put the check in their bank account and write a check for the same amount and send their personal check back to them, and then they will receive the full winning amount. Of course the initial check will eventually bounce, but not until the victim’s check has been sent. Some are as bold as to request the purported winner’s bank account number so the vast winning sum can be directly deposited. There again, if they do get the bank account number you can be assured that a withdrawal — not a deposit — will be made.

Two things to always remember: 1) You will never win any lottery or drawing you have NEVER entered; and 2) NO legitimate contest will ever ask you to send money back to them under any circumstances. Again, the people who run legitimate contests will never send you a letter saying you won. The N.C. Lottery doesn’t know who the winners are until they claim their prizes with the winning numbers.

One of the newer scams is receiving a telephone call from someone identifying themselves as a collection agency, telling you that they are trying to collect on a debt you have not paid. They may say it is probably a mistake, but they have to make an attempt, telling you that even if you do not owe the debt, it has shown up on your credit, but if you will pay a portion of the amount they will cancel the debt. In a recent incident, the caller said the amount owed was $800 , but if the victim would send them $200 they would cancel the debt, correct the mistake and clear the credit. Of course, this is all a scam. NEVER send money to any kind of telephone solicitation. Even if they leave you a callback number, it is probably one of the disposable cell phones that cannot be traced.

Never forget, if is seems too good to be true it almost always is. Call your Sheriff’s Office or Police Department if you have any doubts. Take time to check it out. Any legitimate business will welcome that. The crooks will not wait around.

 Source:  The Anson Record

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