The Smith County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public to be wary after a man falsely identified himself as one of the department’s investigators.
A Tyler resident was “swindled out of an undisclosed amount of money” after receiving a phone call from a man who said his name was “Detective Scotch” and that he worked as an investigator for the sheriff’s office, according to a news release from Sgt. Larry Christian.
The caller told the victim a loved one had been arrested and that they needed to pay a bond in crypto currency. The caller instructed the victim on the steps to pay the “bond,” and unfortunately, the victim believed him and was scammed, Christian said.
“At no time will anyone from Smith County Sheriff’s Office, or any law enforcement agency, call an individual and request cash or monetary payment for any criminal offense, warrant or bond,” Christian said.
He urged residents to simply ignore these types of calls or hang up, then call the sheriff’s office at 903-566-6600 or other local law enforcement agency.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office recently held a presentation in Tyler and talked about the seven most common types of scams. This most recent scam is considered a “government impersonator scam” and is one of the most common. Below are signs of each:
• The scammer sends a friend request or is a dating suggestion from a social media platform
• The scammer is involved in a hard luck story where he fakes being in need of help
• The scammer asks the victim to send money via wires, gift cards or Bitcoin.
• The scammer asks to keep the relationship secret
• The scammer asks for bank account information
• Grandparents receive a fake message or call from any family member
• The family member appears to be in some kind of emergency or problem
• The scammer asks the grandparent to make a payment or to send money to help the family member
• The message or call is labeled as urgent by the family member
Government Impersonator Scams
• The scammer calls claiming to be a law enforcement agency
• The caller claims to be from a legitimate government agency
• The caller asks for a call back to a strange phone number
• The caller asks to make a payment via telephone line
• The scammer calls notifying the victim that a prize has been won
• The scammer asks for bank account information to deposit the money
Tech Support Scam
• The scammer has technology related ads on a website prompting the user to click on them
• The website asks the user for a phone number
• The scammer calls asking to fix a computer or software problem
• The call comes from someone impersonating a company
• The caller will ask for a payment method (credit card, debit card, bank transfer)
• Can be either telephone, online or in person
• Offers products suitable for the victims age
• Typically involves loss or theft of bank account funds
• The scammer states the need of quick action
Family/Caregiver Exploitation Scam
• 85.5% of elder abuse scams come from family members
• The scammer uses different scamming methods such as unauthorized use of ATM, fraudulent checks, property theft and improper use of power of attorney or guardianship
• Possible signs include unexplained movement of assets, a relative claiming assets after a decline in the elder’s health
• Keep computer antivirus up to date
• Be cautious of online products or investment offerings
• Do not open emails and attachments coming from unknown senders
• Never give personal or financial information
• Read and monitor bank statements frequently
• Stop the conversation with a scammer once started
Both Gibson and Kummerfeld encouraged those who feel they have been scammed to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at (877)-382-4357.
If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, you can also call the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311).