Phone scams are getting more persistent, even in Central Oregon. Scam artists are taking to the phone, and people are getting hooked. Crooks are selling dream vacations, bogus stock tips, or promising a stake in huge lottery winnings.
The offer sounds really good: “You are the winner of an all-expenses paid vacation to Europe. All you have to do is pay a small shipping and handling fee and the tickets are yours.”
The voice on the other end of the line sounds trustworthy. The caller may mention the name of a relative or friend or tell you that he or she is working for a large, well-known company. What’s the harm? It’s just a couple of hundred dollars, and then you can start planning your vacation trip to Europe.
Stop right there! It’s time to hang up before you make a big mistake that can cost you dearly. Remember the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true.…”
In recent weeks, Central Oregon has seen an uptick in a phone scams. A male caller who identified himself as “Lt. Jerry Gamble” of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, has told Central Oregon citizens that they have missed jury duty and a warrant has been issued for their arrest. The pitch: Send them money to clear up the warrant or get arrested.
The second phone scam currently popping up in Central Oregon targets elderly people.
The caller identifies himself as a police officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, according to Sgt. Troy Gotchy of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. The scam artist says he has the call recipient’s grandchild in custody for some violation. To clear up the charges, the call recipient must wire money to cover the bail.
Bottom line, according to Sgt. Gotchy: The call is bogus. It’s all about getting access to your money. “Nine times out of ten, these scams are from out of the country,”
Gotchy said. “It is very rare that we actually find whoever is involved in these scams.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, here are some signs that you are being set up for a scam:
- You’ve been specially selected (for this offer).
- You’ll get a free bonus if you buy our product.
- You’ve won one of five valuable prizes.
- You’ve won big money in a foreign lottery.
- This investment is low-risk and provides a higher return than you can get anywhere else.
- You have to make up your mind right away.
If you hear any of these lines from a caller, just say “no” and hang up.
Phone scams and other fraudulent activities are equal-opportunity activities. They are not based on gender, race, age, occupation or education. Anyone is a target.
Gotchy’s advice: Call and ask questions. “Ask a lot of questions,” he said. “If you’re not satisfied, hang up and make a phone call to verify the information. If it sounds weird, it probably is.”
Here is some basic advice to avoid getting scammed:
- Never give personal information – such as your Social Security number, credit card or bank account number – to a stranger over the phone.
- Don’t pay for something that is supposedly “free.”
- Never say “yes” to anything that sounds too good to be true. Call your local law enforcement agency to report suspicious phone calls.
If you are inside the city limits, call the local police department. If you are outside city limits, call the sheriff’s office.
For more information about specific scams and topics, check out these resources from the Federal Trade Commission: