Scams: Don't show them the money (Column)

Courtesy

Courtesy

I know what it's like to be involved in a financial scam. As a child, I briefly operated my own scam that monetarily benefited me and a friend.

We would approach unsuspecting victims at a mall near my house and ask for 10 cents, saying we needed to call our moms because of a flat tire on a bicycle. Back in those days, pay telephones really existed and local calls were 10 cents.

We knew whom to approach, as women with children were easier targets than men. In most cases, women were compassionate to kids, especially those who needed to call their moms for help.

We would only hit up a few people each, as the goal was to collect 25 cents each for a two-scooper ice cream cone at the Thrifty's store. Luckily, we didn't get greedier and continue with bigger scams.

Others have never learned that lesson.

Nearly every day, I get calls from Mohave County residents regarding scams. No doubt about it - scammers are impostors reaching out to people to financially gain from their loss.

Perhaps they've said they are a relative needing help, using the classic scam of being a grandchild in jail in another country or involved in an accident. Or maybe they've said you have won money or a car from a lottery, Publisher's Clearing House, a bank or lawyer regarding inheritance. The common factor in these scams is that money must be sent first in order to receive your money.

Most recent scams involve you supposedly owing money for an overdue bill (utility company), bounced check, the IRS, property taxes, traffic ticket, jury duty or the courts for an arrest warrant. Often, these scammers want money from you right now or they'll shut off your electricity, issue a warrant or have a cop at your door to arrest you.

These are pressure tactics, and at times, these callers will even threaten you.

Be cautious with secret shopper advertising, private party ads and Windows (Microsoft Corporation). Also be leery of door-to-door salespeople, technicians and repair people, especially if you haven't called for service.

Most importantly, be suspicious of scammers who want you to keep this arrangement a secret.

These types of phone calls, emails and door-to-door activities can catch you off guard. Either hang up on the scammers or tell them you'll get back with them at a later time, which allows you time to verify the information.

Always confirm the situation before sending or giving money. Call someone, perhaps the relative who needs help. Look up the phone number of the business that is supposedly calling you to confirm the situation, and don't use the phone number they may have supplied you for confirmation.

If you suspect fraud, contact your local law enforcement office.

Trish Carter is the public information officer for the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.