Home News Southern Ohio Sheriff Reports Over a Dozen Local Scams

Southern Ohio Sheriff Reports Over a Dozen Local Scams


ATHENS – The Athens County Sheriff’s Office is contacted daily with reports of phone and internet scams. Most recently, a scammer has been representing themselves as an employee of the Sheriff’s Office. The caller advises the individual has missed jury duty or court date for a citation and threatens jail time if the person does not pay bail. The caller will provide a false badge number and may sound official. Calls may even appear to come from the Sheriff’s Office number. Please be wary of any caller who requests money. Sheriff Smith would like to advise the public of other common scams reported to our office. “Our goal is to be proactive in teaching the warning signs of a scam, with hope it can be recognized before a financial loss occurs” states Sheriff Smith. “It’s important for our community to familiarize themselves with red flags that may indicate a potential scam, and to share that knowledge with those who may be at a higher risk to be targeted by scammers.” Please review the following tips and information regarding scams that can put your family at risk.

IRS SCAM- Caller claims you owe the IRS back taxes and may warn of legal trouble (pending lawsuit or jail time)- You will be asked to pay or provide account information to avoid consequences – Don’t trust threatening callers- Hang up if you feel the call is not legitimate- Don’t answer or return calls to unknown numbers

WARRANT SCAM- Caller claims you have missed jury duty or a court date for a citation, may claim to be law enforcement, and will advise you have a warrant or other legal consequences- You will be asked to pay bail via telephone- Don’t trust threatening callers- Caller may state you are facing jail time if you refuse to provide payment- Legitimate law enforcement will never ask for money or advise of a warrant over the phone- Don’t answer or return calls to unknown numbers- If you feel the call is not legitimate, hang up- Don’t trust caller

IDFAKE LOAN SCAM- You may receive a letter or email advising you have been offered a loan from an unfamiliar company- Scammer will request you send money to cover loan fees, service fees, taxes, or advance payments- Caller may advise you have not paid on a loan that is unfamiliar to you, and will request immediate payment

LOTTERY OR SWEEPSTAKES SCAM- You will be notified via phone, email or regular mail that you have won a prize- You may be asked to send money to cover taxes or processing fees in order to claim the winnings- Don’t send money to untrusted sources

ROMANCE SCAM- Victim may become emotionally involved by communicating with a love interest via email, social media, etc- Person may advise they need money for a number of reasons- Do not send money to someone you have never met- It is likely the person you believe you are communicating with does not exist

PUPPY SCAM- Scammers post pictures of popular or ‘designer’ breeds and advertise dogs for sale- The seller will request additional fees for shipping, insurance, etc- Ideally, do not purchase dogs online without a face to face transaction- Scam websites may look legitimate- Research breeders extensively before making a purchase agreement

HOME RENTAL SCAM- Legitimate sale ads are copied, to include photos- Renters are convinced to send an application fee, deposit, or first month’s rent- Rent may appear unusually low with an excuse provided by the scammer (owner had to leave the country unexpectedly, etc)- Be wary of property advertisements that do not list the full street address- Don’t send money unless you have verified your transaction- Legitimate sellers can prevent this type of scam by clearly watermarking photos on sale posts

FAMILY EMERGENCY SCAM- The phone call will warn of a family member that has been in an accident or has been arrested- Caller may pretend to be the injured or troubled family member and request money for medical bills, attorney fees, or bail money- Resist the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the caller- Attempt to contact the family member in question before taking any action- Establish a safe word with family members, or ask questions the scammer would not know- To protect yourself from this type of scam, use privacy settings online to prevent scammers from accessing names and information of close family members

OVERPAYMENT SCAM- Overpayment scams may come in the form of items for sale on the internet, alleged winnings or employment scams- Victim will receive a check that appears real, even to some bankers- Scammer will send more than the required amount and will instruct you to cash the check and send back the remaining balance- Your account will be held responsible for the fraudulent check- Don’t accept excess funds in any circumstances- Only do business with trusted sources

EMPLOYMENT SCAMS- Employment scams come in many forms: – Secret Shopper- Babysitting- House Sitting- Cleaning or Moving Services- Personal assistant opportunities- Scammer will send a fraudulent check, often overpaying for services- Never pay a fee to become a ‘certified’ secret shopper or be added to a list of available shoppers- Only accept job offers from trusted sources

COMPUTER REPAIR SCAM- Pop up window on device may advise a virus or malware has been detected on your computer- The screen may prompt you to call a specific phone number, or the scam may originate via telephone initially (the caller will ask you to check your device)- The scammer will diagnose a non-existent problem and ask you to pay for services (device repair, monthly/yearly subscription fees)- Do not click on unknown links or give control of your computer to any unknown source- The caller will advise they are from a well-known company or may use technical terms – Turn off your computer immediately and contact legitimate technical support you trust

SOCIAL MEDIA SCAM- Coupon scams and gift exchange scams are popular on social media- Post may advise the company is giving away free money in honor of a special event and will request you share to receive the money/coupon- This is an attempt to access personal information in your online profile- Remember that for profit companies do not generally give away free money

CHARITY SCAM- Scammers will call in an attempt to solicit donations for various causes- Calls may appear to be from legitimate organizations- Research charities extensively before donating- Choose to donate to local causes

COMMON SIGNS OF A SCAM- Grammatical errors- Overpayment- Requests for payment sent via money card- Threats or vulgar language

PLEASE REMEMBER- Caller ID can be manipulated to fit the scammer’s agenda (known as spoofing. Call will appear as a local number, or a legitimate business)- Law enforcement cannot trace the origin of spoofed calls or internet scams (generally originate overseas)- Scammer may provide false name, employee number, or badge number – Wired funds or funds loaded to a money card are irretrievable – Caller may become vulgar if you refuse to comply (comments may be sexual in nature or may threaten to come to your house)- Scammers often specifically target the elderly- Don’t be afraid to hang up and verify company or agency information ASK YOURSELF- Does it seem too good to be true?

TO REPORT FRADULENT ACTIVITY- You do not need to contact law enforcement unless you have suffered a financial loss, or you have provided personal information that could contribute to identity theft- Please visit www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov or www.ic3.gov to report internet crime- Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/athenscountysheriff for media releases and posts on the most recent scams