DeFuniak Springs Police have recently experienced a rise in the number of complaints from citizens who said they have been scammed. Defuniak Springs Police say that the most recent fraudulent scams have been lottery or sweepstake scams, fake check scams, and lastly, citizens have been falsely advised that a family member has been arrested and they needed to have money sent immediately for bail or diversion programs.
Lottery fraud is one of the many different types of Advance Fee Fraud, where the perpetrator attempts to persuade a possible victim to pay fees in advance or relative small sums of money for a service he or she has never asked for. In the case of a lottery scam the money has to be paid for the transfer of a huge lottery win. Very often, names of popular companies or organizations are misused to give the lottery a trustworthy impression. Modern media are often used, for example, the Internet, mobile devices and cell phones.
Fake check scams have occurred when citizens have received very official “looking” cashier’s checks with the announcement that they have won this check. All that has to be done to claim the funds is to deposit the check and send the taxes due to the address given. Banks will not always catch that this is a fake check until it’s too late and your account is debited.
The newest scam is spreading across the country quickly and includes a phone call advising citizens that a family member has been arrested and needs bail or funds to pay restitution so that charges can be dropped. Scammers advise that if your credit card information or funds are not “immediately” given, the family member faces much stiffer consequences.
DeFuniak Springs City Marshal, Mark Weeks says he wants citizens to avoid becoming the latest victims in the recent scams by following a few simple steps and remembering that the next time you get a “personal” telephone call or letter telling you ”it’s your lucky day, “:
Don’t pay to collect sweepstakes winnings, you’re not wining – you’re buying. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t require you to pay “insurance,” “taxes”, or “shipping and handling charges” to collect your prize.
Hold on to your money. Scammers pressure people to wire money through commercial money transfer companies because wiring money is the same as sending cash. When the money’s gone, there’s very little chance of recovery. Likewise, resist any push to send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier. Con artists recommend these services so they can get to your money before you realize you’ve been cheated.
Phone numbers can deceive. Some con artists use Internet technology to call you. It allows them to disguise their area code: although it may look like they’re calling from your local area, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
If you do become a victim:
Notify the police, your bank, credit card companies and the fraud unit at the credit bureaus.
Equifax - 800-525-6285, www.equifax.com
Experian - 888-397-3742, www.experian.com
Transunion - 800-680-7289, www.transunion.com
Remove your name from telemarketing lists by signing up at www.donotcall.gov or 888-382-1222