“If you don't know them, don't tell them anything.”
This is one piece of advice that Detective Sgt. Brian Beckman gave to participants at the “Scams: Don't Let it Happen to You” presentation at the Blair Public Library and Technology Center on Friday afternoon.
Many of the scams can come over the telephone or the mail or computer. Beckman said it is important to watch your credit and social security numbers.
“We see so many types of scams it is difficult to target down,” Beckman said. “If you didn't initiate the phone call, there's no reason to give them any information.”
Beckman said a lot of calls coming in are from what looks like Medicare or Medicaid wanting to verify phone numbers and social security numbers.
“If it's legitimate Medicare, they have your social security number in their system,” he said.
Beckman said one of the big ones is people saying they won the lottery or a car but you have to send money first. He said another scam is being told to go to Walmart to buy gift cards and provide the numbers from those cards.
“One of the major cases we worked on was for $85,000 and the other was just over $100,000, with people being told they won the lottery,” he said. “Once people do those transactions, unfortunately the money is gone.”
A lot of scams say a person's rental car was involved in an accident and drugs and blood were found inside. They ask the victim to send money to their attorneys to help with the cases or they'll arrest the person.
“I promise you that no law enforcement officers will call you and say they have a warrant for your arrest,” he said. “They say 'We're going to come get you unless you pay me.' We will come arrest you.”
Beckman said with the cases where someone lost $80,000 and another lost $100,000 thinking they were investing, the federal government said those amounts were too small for them to follow up.
“We have very little success catching the people who do this,” Beckman said. “Most of them are overseas and it takes a lot of money for the federal government to get involved with it.”
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