State Police Warn About Scams Affecting Area

JEFFERSON CO., Pa. (EYT) – Punxsutawney-based State Police issued a release on Friday warning local citizens about scams affecting the area.

The Pennsylvania State Police would like to remind citizens that con artists continue to conduct their illegal activities in our area. Scams can be easily committed on the unsuspecting person, and if not careful, anyone can become a victim. Con artists are smooth talkers, meaning they can talk you out of information without you realizing what information you gave. Virtually everyone knows that it is dangerous to give out a credit card number; however, if the proper person obtains a little personal information about you such as your date of birth and social security number, they can commit one of the most popular crimes of today, identity theft. Some victims of identity theft have lost thousands of dollars and in some cases, have spent years trying to get problems associated with this crime corrected.

There are many variations, but most scams involve a ruse where you receive a phone call or a check in the mail from a lottery, a corporation or a foreign country. Other schemes originate from use of online selling or auction sites. In most cases, the victim is instructed to cash a check, keep a small portion of the money, and send the remaining amount to an address provided. In some of these crimes, sending the money will ensure your receipt of an even larger cash prize. The crime within this scam is the fact that the prize or product is non-existent and/or the initial check is fraudulent. If you send the amount required by personal check to the address provided, the con artist not only cashes your check and steals the money, but he also now has your bank account number.

Another scheme that is becoming more popular involves a scammer calling the victim and acting as a family member in legal trouble and in need of some fast cash. They will usually ask the victim to quickly wire them money for bail or to pay fines. The scammer will have already obtained information about the victim’s family member on social media websites to gain the victim’s trust. To thwart this scam a potential victim should ask questions of the caller that only a family member would know: extended family names, mother’s maiden name, birth dates of family members, anniversary dates, or the names of current or past pets.

The primary prevention tip to remember to avoid becoming a victim of any scam is, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” If you believe that you are a victim of a scam, save all the information you have regarding the issue, and promptly contact the police department that serves your area. Remember don’t give out your personal information such as your date of birth or social security number.

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