Phone scams raise concern for Granby PD
March 17, 2016
Chief Housley outlined three phone scams in the Granby area.
The DEA phone scam is directed at individuals who have recently purchased vitamins or pharmaceuticals over the Internet. The scammers have access to information that a purchased and contacted individuals. They claim to be representatives of the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).
The scammers inform the them they are aware of a recent purchase made online. The scammers claim the recent online purchase was illegal and that the individual who made the purchase is being charged with an illegal transaction. The scammers claim DEA agents are on their way to the their home to arrest them for the purchase and unless a significant amount of money is wired as "bond" they will be arrested and transported out of the country to a prison on foreign soil. The scam is additionally convincing because the scammers call arrives with a 202 area code, the Washington D.C. area.
“It is important for citizens to understand that no law enforcement agency will ever contact a citizen by phone and demand an electronic transfer of funds to avoid physical arrest.”Chief Housley
"It is important for citizens to understand that no law enforcement agency will ever contact a citizen by phone and demand an electronic transfer of funds to avoid physical arrest," said Chief Housley. "That is never going to happen. It doesn't matter if it is local, county, state or federal."
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An incident recently occurred in Granby with a citizen being threatened with arrest unless they wired $1,900 to an account within 45 minutes. "This person was smart enough to call us," said Housley. "But they were terrified. They honestly believed in that moment that it was real."
If anyone experiences any calls from a law enforcement agency asking for bond money to be wired, "it is a fraud", said Housley. Housley suggested citizens simply hang-up on scammers or contact local police officers to report the incident. Citizens can also report incidents directly to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agency responsible for following up on phone frauds. The phone number for the FTC is 877-382-4357.
BANK ACCOUNT SCAM
In the bank account scam a citizen will receive a phone call, text or email indicating their banking system was somehow compromised and a case of fraud or illegal transfer of funds is being investigated. The phone call, text or email will ask for the their help in resolving the problem. As part of that process the scammers ask them to "verify" their account number and account security code or password.
If they do provide scammers with information their bank accounts become compromised and money is withdrawn from the account until they realizes the mistake and halts transactions.
"It is very easy to assume it is legitimate," said Housley. "It sounds legitimate and most of us would want to help resolve a fraud. It is easy to get sucked into it but in reality it is a fraud."
Housley said it is important for citizens to realize banks do not communicate with account holders in that manner to investigate fraud or illegal activity; explaining that banks would likely request account holders come into the bank in person but would not request personal account information via the phone or internet.
"What a citizen should do if they are not sure is simply contact their bank and speak to a known bank manager or representative," Housley said. "The best solution is to hop in the car and go down in person. If the bank called about an irregularity with the account then the bank can tell them."
This scam was made famous by "Nigerian Princes" on the Internet for years. With the lottery/inheritance scam citizens will receive correspondence claiming they either won a lottery jackpot or a long lost relative of the citizen died and left a vast inheritance to them. Scammers will send a check, usually worth several thousand dollars as an initial payment.
The scammers inform them that they are free to deposit and spend the check as they want and that more money is coming to the citizen. The scammers will claim they need a small payment from the citizen to handle processing, legal or other fees so the remainder of the lottery winnings or inheritance can be sent to the citizen. There is always a short window within which the citizens can pay these "fees", with the scammers claiming that delayed action will make the additional funds unavailable. The processing fee the scammers ask for is typically several thousand dollars, though is a smaller amount than the initial check sent by the scammer. The scam works by having them deposit the initial check into their bank accounts then withdrawing funds and sending them back to cover "fees".
Later they find out the initial check they received was worthless and the money sent to the scammers to cover the processing "fees" was withdrawn directly from their preexisting funds.
"No legitimate entity or agency of any kind will send a citizen a check and then require them to wire back a portion of that money for any purpose," said Housley. "That is never going to happen, those are always frauds."