Real Estate Scams: Residents that are purchasing a property and awaiting settlement will receive an email from a person posing as their realtor. The email will state that they need to wire a large sum of money to be put into escrow to go forward with settlement. Unfortunately, many wire the money and later discover that the email(s) and the recipient of the funds were not legitimate, and they are a victim of a scam. The true realtor's email and the scam email are usually very similar with a character added and sometimes a different email service provider at the end. Many realtors advise not to reply to email requests for wire transactions and most real estate transactions are done by certified bank check. Any wire transfers should be confirmed by speaking directly to your realtor, agent, or attorney directly, not by email or text. In many of these cases the money is not recovered, leaving the victim taking a substantial financial loss. The stolen money many times ends up in overseas accounts or crypto currency and is difficult or impossible to trace. Look for any differences in the email address and compare the legitimate sender's address. If in doubt speak to your contact directly in person or voice communication, not using the contact information on the suspicious email.
Pet Scams: The scammer posts advertisements for puppies or other pets, usually online. You contact them and the scammer asks you to send them money by Western Union, Money Gram, or internet payment services, like Cash App, etc. After you send the payment for the pet, the scammer will often contact you again. The scammer will advise that you must pay shipping fees to a shipping company, which is fake. You send the money and the pet never shows up. Or you are given an address to pick the animal up. You arrive to find a vacant address or the resident having no idea what you are talking about. Many times, they use google maps pictures to show the location they are supposedly operating from. We recommend using a local reputable breeder or adopt a shelter pet.
Social Security Scam: You get a call and you are advised your social security number is suspended, there is an active investigation, and there is a warrant out for your arrest. They may even ask you for your local police department information, this is just to distract your attention. You are advised to go to a store and purchase gift cards and give them the card information as payment. The Social Security Administration will NEVER collect funds this way.
Relative in Jail or Distress: Scammer calls, texts, or emails you and tells you a relative is in jail or hospital and needs money sent for bail, attorney's fees, medical bills, or other expenses. Sometimes they try to pose as the relative themselves when contacting you. The scammer will tell you the relative's phone is broken or not working, to keep you from trying to call them directly. They will many times request sending cash via overnight mailing service like US Postal Service or Fed Ex to an address. The mailing address is often a vacant residence or property. The scammers will also use Western Union or Money Gram to have you send money or may request that you pay by buying gift cards and giving the information over the phone.
Rental Car Scam: Scammer calls and tells you there was a vehicle rented in your name and information. They go on to tell you the car was used in drug smuggling, homicide, or other criminal activity. They want you to send them money to "take care of the legal issues” by gift cards, wiring money (Western Union etc.) or sending cash to an address.
Explicit Picture Scam: You get an email from a scammer telling you they have all your information and have pictures of you doing sexual acts or that you have been on sexual type websites. The scammer tells you that you need to send them money and respond within a specified time period. If not, scammer will send these pictures and information to all your relatives and contacts. Do not click on any link in the email and just delete it. We have had a few of these reported to our department in the last several weeks.
Overpayment Scam: Scammer sends you a counterfeit check for an item or service you have advertised online to sell. The counterfeit check is made out to you for more than the price you were selling and shipping it for. The scammer then advises you to deposit the counterfeit check into your bank account and wire the remainder of the money back to them or a shipping service. It takes your bank a few days to find that the check is fraudulent, and you are out the money you sent the scammer and fees associated with the bad check.
Bank Verification: Scammer contacts you by phone, email or text asking to verify your debit card or bank account number. They will pose as a legitimate entity, like a bank. Financial institutions will not contact you to confirm your account or card information, your legitimate financial institution already has that information.
Sweetheart Scams: Scammer poses online, and you befriend them. As you communicate with them, they ask you for money for medical bills, bail, travel money to visit you or a sick relative, or other expenses.
Lottery, Sweepstakes, or Prize Scam: You receive a letter, email, or text advising you that you have won a prize. The scammer advises you that you need to send them money for fees, processing, or taxes to claim the prize. If you never entered to win this prize it is probably a scam. Do not get caught up in the excitement of being a winner or you may end up losing.
Census Fraud: With this being a census year look out for scammers posing as Census Bureau employees. They will try to obtain your personal information to steal your identity or for fraud. Do not give them your Social Security number, bank or credit card numbers, or information like your mother's maiden name. If you receive an email from someone posing as the Census Bureau, it is probably a scam. Census staff / personnel are posted on the Census Bureau staff directory online.
Criminal scams are as vast as their imagination. Before sending any money do some research or contact your local law enforcement agency, if in doubt.
If you receive an internet scam you can report it to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov