Several local residents have been the victims of telephone scams in which they are asked to transfer money and receive nothing of value in return. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office advises consumers to hang up if they receive any call asking for personal or financial information. The AG Office says a bank or government agency will never request your Social Security number or account information over the phone.
“Every day, there’s a scammer who picks up the phone, tells a big lie, and tries to get money from someone in Ohio,” said former Attorney General and current Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in a prepared statement. “No longer do thieves have to rob a bank to get cash. They just pick up the phone, tell a very detailed, believable story – and smart Ohioans all over the state fall for their scam. We want to help consumers avoid falling for con artists’ lies, and education is the best way we can help consumers be aware of their schemes.”
One local resident said that her granddaughter was fooled into purchasing two $500 Walmart gift cards by a caller who said she would be entered into a Mystery Shopper program. When she transferred the card numbers over the phone they were drained of money, and a reimbursement check sent to her home had insufficient funds to process. Fortunately, in her case, her family was able to help her pay rent for the month, but many scammers are never prosecuted.
On Jan. 28 the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office posted on social media that it had received reports that scammers claiming to be from the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office are calling residents. The sheriff’s office says it does not contact parties via telephone to discuss warrant information and will never ask for any payment to be made, neither do they collect bond on any offense or warrant.
According to the sheriff’s office, one recent caller identified himself as “Sgt. Matt Cook” and said that there is a “federal warrant” issued and payment must be made or the called party will be subject to arrest. The scammer may disclose specific information about the called party (i.e., spouse’s name, date of birth, etc.), in an attempt to intimidate to obtain payment.
The sheriff’s office advises to never provide information, and that the best option is to disconnect the call.
“Oftentimes scams target elderly people,” said Detective Ryan Black. “We used to see a lot of people impersonating officers saying they had your grandchild. Police departments don’t operate like that; we don’t take money, the jail makes arrangements to pay a bond.
“People should never transfer money over the phone,” he added. “If anyone is contacted, reach out to the sheriff’s office or local jurisdiction. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to giving up money.”
Types of scams
Attorney General Dave Yost recently warned Ohioans of tax scammers, cautioning them to protect their personal information and refund dollars. The Attorney General’s Office has received more than 130 reports of tax-related scams in January.
“Everybody loves a tax refund – especially bad guys, who want yours,” Yost said. “They’re rubbing their hands with glee now that it’s tax season, and their favorite criminal tool is your personal information.”
The office encourages citizens to file taxes as soon as possible, choose a reputable tax preparer, protect your personal information, consider the costs of any “fast” refunds, and to use any refund wisely.
Other types of common scams include advance fee loans, credit repair scams, computer repair scams, fake check scams, foreclosure rescue scams, friend-in-need scams, home improvement fraud, identity theft, imposter scams, job opportunity scams, online shopping scams, phone fraud, phishing, phony charities, sweepstakes and prize scams. The attorney general’s office advises that some key signs of a scam involve:
-Being asked to wire money to a stranger or friend in need
-Being selected for a mystery shopping job, especially if you never applied
-Pressure to “act now!”
-Being asked to buy a prepaid money card
-Sending money in advance to secure or insure a loan
-Winning a contest you’ve never heard of or entered
-Having to pay a fee to receive your “prize”
-Requests for your personal information
-Requests for a large down-payment
-A company that refuses to provide written information
To report a scam or for help resolving a consumer complaint, consumers should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or call 800-282-0515.
Christopher Selmek can be reached at 937-508-2304