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KSP Urges Citizens to be Vigilant of Scams During Holiday Season

Date of News Release: 11/23/2014

(Hickory, KY) - Kentucky State Police have continued to receive an influx of reports from the public of scams that are victimizing citizens in the Post 1 area. These scams come in various forms. Every year, the variation of scams increase and evolve as banks and other entities increase their security measures. In recent months, the Mayfield Post has opened numerous criminal investigations pertaining to cases where scammers pretend to be IRS Agents and demand the victim send money in order to avoid federal charges. In addition to these complaints, Post 1 continues to receive reports pertaining to Craigslist and other "classified ad" type website scams, e-mail related scams, mail scams, and scams which take place over the phone. The following are examples:

Craigslist and other "classified ad" type website scams: Kentucky State Police encourages all citizens of the Commonwealth to exercise due regard when making purchases online. A variation of this type of scam comes through a purchaser bidding on, or buying, an item via a website. After the item has been purchased, the "seller" will send the purchaser a check or money order for more than the amount which the item was sold. The "seller" will request that the purchaser deposit the check or money order into the bank and send money back to the seller. These checks/money orders are not valid and the amount sent back to the "seller" will be lost because the bank will reject the check or money order due to it being invalid. Many scammers are also utilizing dating websites to attempt to take advantage of people and convince them to send money for medical emergencies.

E-mail related scams: A variation of a current e-mail scam going around comes in the form of an e-mail from a person the victim does not know, telling the victim they have won a large sum of money. The scammer will provide the victim with an e-mail address to contact for details. They often ask for personal information; however, in some cases they request the victim to pay taxes on their "winnings", so they can send the money. These are easily detected if a person is paying close attention. The English in these emails is typically broken because the e-mail comes from a foreign country. The money in these scams is typically irrecoverable, due to it leaving the country. These e-mails come in many different variations. Kentucky State Police encourages everyone who receives an e-mail of this nature to ignore it. If the e-mail is believed to be legit, call police before sending any money.

Mail scams: Mail scams have declined with the popularization and convenience of e-mail; however, they do still exist. A typical mail scam involves a person receiving a check or money order in the mail with instructions to cash or deposit it. The instructions will further instruct the victim to send a portion of the money to someone else. These checks or money orders are most always a scam. The check or money order will end up being fraudulent and the victim ends up losing the money that was forwarded. Often the instructions will tell the victim not to tell anyone. Kentucky State Police urges that these items be disposed of as trash. Most of these scams end up tracing back to foreign countries.

Scams that take place over the phone: Many of the most recent reports of phone scams come in the form of scammers pretending to be government officials demanding people send money to avoid charges. For example, a recent scam involves perpetrators making phone calls to random citizens and portraying themselves as IRS Agents or employees of the Department of the United States Treasury. The scammer intimidates the victim into believing they are delinquent on taxes and must send money to avoid federal charges and going to prison. Kentucky State Police urges citizens that if they receive a call of this nature to call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or the Department of the United States Treasury at (202) 622-2000 and verify the caller. Do not send money until the identity of the caller and the need to send money have been verified by someone known to be a government official.

Another scam that often takes place over the phone advises the victim they have won a foreign lottery. In order to collect those "winnings", the victim is told they have to pay taxes on the amount or item won. The number calling may be from Jamaica or a country in Africa. Kentucky State Police advises to simply hang up and do not give the caller any information, and do not send any money. Most of the time, these scams lead to the victim’s money going overseas, thus making it virtually impossible to get it back. It is important that citizens remain vigilant to this type of fraud. The simple rule "if it seems too good to be true" has a deep-rooted meaning, and Kentucky State Police asks that everyone applies this rule before sending anyone money. For more information on scams, people can visit the Federal Trade Commission website at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts