Police: ‘Phone scam circulates area’

By Anthony Gonzalez agonzalez@civitasmedia.com

March 7, 2014

Local citizens have been scammed out of thousands of dollars, according to a local police department release.

Elkin police said several reports have surfaced regarding citizens being scammed out of money by predators preying on people’s good nature or religious beliefs.

Jonesville police said they are seeing an increase in reports of people being solicited through the telephone.

According to Jonesville Police Chief Roger Reece, one particular scammer is calling local residents claiming to be a public defender who is in need of money. The caller states that his grandson had gotten into an accident and was charged with a DUI after rear-ending foreigners. The caller is requesting money to keep the matter outside of courts before things get ugly.

Reece released the phone number associated with the caller of 403-560-1449. The number is tracked to Alberta, Canada.

Reece said scam artists likely target areas with a high elderly demographic.

“This is a scam. I am urging anyone who receives a call from this number to contact authorities and avoid sending any money,” he said.

According to Lt. Mendy Peles with the Elkin Police Department, victims in its scam-related cases are usually solicited either online or by phone and sometimes through the mail. Victims have been told they are the recipient of a prize and must send money to cover the taxes before receiving their prize. After sending money, the victim never receives their prize money.

“Sometimes victims are sent checks that seem to be legitimate at first and are asked to cash the checks and send a portion of the money. After the money is sent, victims find out the check is fake. The victim is responsible for the monies from the check and bank fees,” said Peles through an official alert.

Elkin police also are reviewing another scam whereas victims enter a social website and meet someone. After spending some time speaking online with the person, they are asked to send money, maybe to support a charity. Victims may be repeatedly contacted and may be threatened if they do not continue to send money.

“Other scams are circulating. These are not the only ones,” said Peles.

According to the Elkin Police Department, if someone is contacted by someone soliciting money, try to identify the charity or business that is soliciting. There are legitimate charities that do call. Research can be done on these charities by checking with the Better Business Bureau online at http://nwnc.bbb.org/ or by phone at 336-725-8348 or 800-777-8348. Legitimate charities will have a non-profit tax identification number.

Police said if someone is contacted by someone requesting money, do not give out personal information including social security number, birth date or banking account or credit card numbers.

“It is very difficult to prosecute the scammers. Usually they are from out of state and most of the time they are from another country,” said Peles.

Anthony Gonzalez may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @newsgonz on Twitter.