As each and every day goes by, it seems as if unscrupulous individuals come up with more and more new scam attempts to get your money. Not a week goes by at the Sheriff’s Office that we don’t get a call about an attempted scam. Fortunately, most people realize they’re being scammed before they lose their money. But nationwide, over 8 million dollars is lost each year in phone scams, with experts believing the actual dollar amount being even higher due to unreported losses. The average scam victim will lose almost $500.
You don’t have to be a victim. Many citizens avoid being a scam victim by merely not answering calls from “Unknown number or Unknown Caller”. When you’re contacted by an individual who you do not know and they begin their spill to you in an elaborate scheme, a RED FLAG should go up. Recently we have gotten word of many scam attempts where the caller claims that you owe money. They may say it’s an old debt, an old loan that you made, or maybe income taxes they claim you owe. The first thought you should have is whether you have personal knowledge of this debt. If you don’t, it’s a scam – RED FLAG. Some scam callers have told citizens in our county that they owe back income tax, and if they do not make an immediate payment, the local sheriff is going to arrest them. The sheriff’s office or any other law enforcement agency does not collect back taxes for the IRS, and we do not arrest people for them. This should be an immediate RED FLAG to you that it’s a scam attempt.
We have a recent report where the caller identifies themselves as being with ARA Firm and that they are trying to collect an outstanding sum of money and are threatening arrest. Again, law enforcement does not arrest on old debts or unpaid bills. This is a RED FLAG.
The schemes can become very imaginative in attempt to make you believe what’s being said so you’ll panic and send them money. In another scam report, the victim was contacted by a caller claiming to be a federal warrants officer and he tells the victim they have been found in contempt of court for ignoring a jury duty summons. Although the victim had never received a summons he was threatened with arrest if he didn’t immediately send over $800 in Net Spend Reload Packs and was given instructions on how to activate the cards. He was told to transfer the funds and report to a local judge at the Atascosa County Courthouse on a specific date. The individual sent the money and became a victim. There was no such judge or court date awaiting him. A federal jury summons would in no way be connected to a judge in the local county courthouse, this too is a RED FLAG. In most all instances, a legitimate debt notice would come through the mail first and it will not have the threat of arrest attached to it.
Emails or calls that a family member or other close friend is stranded and you’re requested to send them money to a foreign country is certainly a scam attempt. Many times elderly are targeted and the caller claims to be a grandchild or distant relative.
Last, we still see many scams where the target is contacted by telephone or email and told they have money due to them in some form or fashion or that they have inherited a large sum of money – RED FLAG. The scam artist will always want you to send them money first in order to get the money they claim you have coming, this is always a scam and an automatic RED FLAG.
If you’re contacted and you feel it may be a scam, it probably is. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Feel free to call the Atascosa County Sheriff’s Office at 830- 769-3434 and talk to one of our investigators at extension # 2223, 2227, 2228 or 2229. We will be happy to assist you and keep you from becoming a victim.
My recommendation when you’re contacted by phone or email and you detect or feel that it’s a scam, HANG UP or DELETE.
Until next time, be safe and don’t be a victim.
Sheriff David Soward