After the first week of 2023, two scam alerts have been sounded for Culpeper and the rest of Virginia regarding utilities and cryptocurrency.
On Jan. 3, an announcement was made by the town of Culpeper warning residents of a scam involving phone calls from unknown persons posing as utility companies. These callers demanded payments for overdue payments due to a change in utility service provider.
The callers would then threaten those they called with termination of their utilities if payment was not made. Customers would then be asked to make payments in cash, with prepaid gift cards or through local money transfer merchants.
These methods, especially gift cards, are chosen methods of scammers in order to anonymize such unauthorized payments.
Culpeper’s announcement made clear that services are not transferred to other utility providers without prior notice to customers that would be affected by the change. The announcement also mentioned that the town does not contact customers via phone or in person asking for personal information.
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The town of Culpeper offered tips to residents should they be confronted with a scam attempt. The announcement recommends that residents ask for a company issued identification card if they are face to face. Also recommended, if residents feel pressured to provide payments or personal information they should capture the phone number, hang up and contact the Treasurer’s Office to confirm any outstanding payments.
Residents of the town of Culpeper can call 540/829-8820 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the same day the American Association of Retired Persons, known commonly as the AARP, sent out an alert regarding ongoing scams regarding cryptocurrency.
According to an announcement made by the organization, fraud involving cryptocurrency investment schemes and cryptocurrency as payment in other schemes skyrocketed in 2022. The announcement referenced a report made by the Federal Trade Commission which recorded losses exceeding $1 billion due to the scam.
Last year, scams offered investment opportunities in cryptocurrency through social media, dating websites and other apps. According to the AARP, targets of the scams reported seeing assets gaining value with the more money they would invest.
However, any attempt to remove money was met with claims of charging high fees for withdrawal that would prevent investors from getting their money back.
Another aspect of the scheme occurs in real life where a scammer can approach a target and convince them to make a payment at a crypto-ATM machine. These machines convert cash into cryptocurrency which makes it virtually impossible to recover.
AARP suggests consulting a financial advisor for guidance on investing, and to not interact with those trying to convince people into converting cash to crypto at ATMs.Those who suspect that they may be targeted for a scam can contact the Town of Culpeper Police Department at 540/727-3430.
Residents can also contact the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Stopper webpage or the AARP’s Fraud Watch Network at aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.