We see all kinds of scams and frauds here at the Walpole Police Station, and sadly we see people lose thousands and thousands of dollars. The best defense against these scams is simply education. If people knew about these scams, they would know them when they saw them, and would be able to protect themselves. Here is some information about some of the latest and most popular scams we see.
With the tough economy, scammers are preying on the unemployed and offering "jobs" to people to become "mystery shoppers".
I am going to break from form here; I'm not even going to tell you what this scam involves, it doesn't matter. I only want everyone to know one (1) thing:
If anyone ever asks you to cash a check, and send the money back to them via money transfer (Western Union, MoneyGram), it's a scam.
I don't care what they say, I don't care how real it looks.....never, ever, cash a check from anyone, and wire the money to anyone.
This is known as the Nigerian Scam. It is as old as the internet. They come up with new ideas every year, they pretend to be the IRS, they pretend to be your grandmother, they pretend to be your friend who lost their luggage in London, they pretend to offer a job as a mystery shopper, I had one once where they pretended to have a rare cat for sale.
None of it matters, when you boil it down, they ALL ask you to cash a check and wire money. People fall for this, I have literally seen people lose their entire life savings. Please learn this one simple fact, and tell your friends and family: Cash a Check + Wire the Money = SCAM.
We get this every year around tax time. The scam is very simple. They pretend to be either your tax company, or the IRS, and they tell you that you are in serious trouble. Your tax returns failed to go through, and it is URGENT that you resubmit your taxes to a certain email or address.
How It Happens: Telephone or Email.
The Scam: They get you to send your tax information to them.
The Result: They use your tax information, steal your identity and open credit in your name.
Spot The Scam: Everything is URGENT. They will have all kinds of reasons why you need to hurry up, and why you need to send your information to an email or address that seems fishy to you, however, they are extremely convincing and use a variety of tricks.
Stop The Scam: If I can give you 1 single thing to remember for every single scam I tell you about, it is this, stop, take a day, and ask around. Call your family, call your friends, use the internet to investigate the situation. Are they saying they are from your tax company? Well, make a trip down there and ask them in person.
In addition, never, ever, use any information in an email or that you get from a telephone call, if you suspect something is suspicious. If you want to call the IRS, go look the number up yourself, and call them. Why? Simple, we have done cases where the scammers give you a fake phone number to call, and they pick it up and pretend they are the IRS. Look up the phone number using 4-1-1 and call that way.
We get this every year around spring break time. The scam is very simple. You get a phone call from your relative who is in college. You won't believe this, but they are on spring break in Mexico, and they just got arrested. Long story, there is no time to explain, but they need bail money wired to them fast. They would ask their parents, but if they find out they will be grounded for life, so they are calling you; their favorite relative. You have to wire the money as soon as possible. If needed, they will hand the phone to the "police officer" so they can explain more.
How It Happens: Telephone.
The Scam: You wire money.
The Result: Your money is gone. Your bank won't cover it, the wire company won't cover it.
Spot The Scam: Everything is URGENT, are you seeing a pattern? The easiest way to spot this scam is simple. The very second anyone mentions "wire me money" I would hang up. You would avoid about 95% of scams if you kept to this rule. These people are extremely well prepared. Kids these days splash all kinds of information about themselves all over the internet. These people find it, and a clever person could find out who goes to college, where they go, when they are on spring break, and even get a list of their relatives.
Stop The Scam: Again, take time and call around. However, do not call any number your "relative" gives you. They are known to have fake numbers, and when you call it, they pick up saying "Mexican State Police Barracks" or something similar. We have had people wire tens-of-thousands of dollars to get little Johnny out of jail, and they will never get that money back because the majority of these scams originate overseas.