Scams that fleece Greene County residents out of thousands of dollars are regularly reported to local law enforcement agencies.
Several phone and internet scams were reported Friday to the Greene County Sheriff’s Department.
ARREST WARRANT SCAMS
A Jearoldstown resident told deputies he received calls from an 800-prefix number “stating he had a warrant for his arrest and that he needed to go get some cards from Home Depot and put cash money on them and give (the suspects) codes from the cards,” a report said.
The victim complied and gave caller codes totaling $6,000. He also gave the callers his Social Security number.
The man was told by deputies that he was the victim of a scam. While the victim was at the sheriff’s department, the scammers called his phone. A detective got on the line and identified himself as a member of law enforcement.
The scammers then called from a number that identified them as being from the Greeneville Police Department.
The detective “knew this to be false and advised them to come see me and to stop calling the victim’s phone,” the report said.
A Greeneville man reported earlier this month he was victimized in a variation of the arrest warrant scam.
The man received a phone call from a person who told him he had active arrest warrants “and that his bank account was frozen because of it,” a report said.
The man went to a CVS pharmacy in Greeneville and purchased two Target gift cards, one for $500 and one for $331.
He gave the card numbers to the person on the phone and was given a confirmation number. The man was told officers would be at his house the next day with a cashier’s check.
The caller already had the victim’s Social Security number and date of birth, the report said.
FAKE ‘GRANT’ AWARD
A Browns Circle Road man said he was scammed out of $450 by someone who hacked his Google and Facebook accounts.
The victim said he received a message on Facebook Messenger on Feb. 14 from a man “stating that if he paid him $300 that he would send him a $30,000 grant,” but didn’t specify what the grant was for, a deputy’s report said.
The victim was sent a link with instructions where to send the money. He purchased four Google play cards on Feb. 15, including two cards for $100 each and two for $50 each.
On Feb. 16, the victim was told that his grant was held up by customs and he had to pay an additional $150 to get it released, the report said.
The victim purchased $150 worth of Amazon cards and sent them to the person he was in contact with.
The victim told deputies “that the man’s page that was messaging him was also a victim and his account was hacked as well.”
The victim was also contacted by phone but did not answer.
The victim gave his driver’s license information to the suspect during the transactions.
“The victim does not know who the suspect is and has been locked out of his Facebook account where all conversation took place,” a report said.
The Federal Trade Commission received nearly 500,000 reports of “imposter scams” in 2020.
“Scammers showed up wearing many different hats, from that of a government official, to a known business, to a dear family member or friend,” according to the FTC.
People reported losing a lot of money to scammers: $1.2 billion, with a median loss of $850.
“Government and business imposter scams were also among the top categories of COVID-19 and stimulus related reports, proving once again, that scammers follow the headlines,” the FTC reported.
Scammers can use technology to fake the name or number on a caller ID. Even when a caller ID shows a local number, it could be a scammer calling from anywhere in the world. Many scams start by inducing people to answer a call because the phone number looks looks like it is coming from a local source. The practice is known as “spoofing.”
“Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID display to disguise their identity. Scammers often use neighbor spoofing so it appears that an incoming call is coming from a local number, or spoof a number from a company or a government agency that you may already know and trust,” according to the Federal Communications Commission.
“If you answer, they use scam scripts to try to steal your money or valuable personal information, which can be used in fraudulent activity,” information from the FCC said.
“You may not be able to tell right away if an incoming call is spoofed. Be extremely careful about responding to any request for personal identifying information,” the FCC advises.
SPOOFING PROTECTION TIPS
The FCC offers the following tips to protect against spoofing and other scam calls:
- Don’t answer calls from unknown numbers. If you answer such a call, hang up immediately.
- If you answer the phone and the caller, or a recording, asks you to hit a button to stop getting the calls, just hang up. Scammers often use this trick to identify potential targets.
- Do not respond to any questions, especially those that can be answered with “Yes” or “No.”
- Never give out personal information such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden names, passwords or other identifying information in response to unexpected calls or if there is any suspicion about the legitimacy of the call.
- If you get an inquiry from someone who says they represent a company or a government agency, hang up and call the phone number on your account statement, in the phone book, or on the company’s or government agency’s website to verify the authenticity of the request. You will usually get a written statement in the mail before you get a phone call from a legitimate source, particularly if the caller is asking for a payment.
- Use caution if you are being pressured for information immediately.
- If you have a voice mail account with your phone service, be sure to set a password for it. Some voicemail services are preset to allow access if you call in from your own phone number. A hacker could spoof your home phone number and gain access to your voice mail if you do not set a password.
- Talk to your phone company about call blocking tools and check into apps that you can download to your mobile device. The FCC allows phone companies to block robocalls by default based on reasonable analytics. More information about robocall blocking is available at fcc.gov/robocalls.
Remember to check your voicemail periodically to make sure you aren’t missing important calls and to clear out any spam calls that might fill your voicemail box to capacity.
Unwanted calls, including illegal and spoofed robocalls, are the FCC’s top consumer complaint. These include complaints from consumers whose numbers are being spoofed or whose calls are being mistakenly blocked or labeled as a possible scam call by a robocall blocking app or service.
The FCC advises contacting the phone service provider to learn more about blocking and labeling solutions that may be available to provide protection from unwanted and illegal calls. There may also be apps that are available to be downloaded for a mobile device, at little or no cost, to block or label potential spam calls.
For information from the Federal Trade Commission on how to stop unwanted calls, go to: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-stop-unwanted-calls.