The Marco Island Police Department has received an increased amount of solicitation complaints regarding scams and fraudulent schemes that are being experienced by our local residents. Sergeant Linda Guerrero offers the following crime prevention advice:
Scammers are constantly finding new ways to target victims, and unfortunately, Marco Island residents are being targeted. Scammers are posing as friends, family, agencies and companies you know and trust. They may use phone calls, emails, letters, faxes or even text messages in their deceptions and solicitations. Below are a few of the fraud/scam schemes recently encountered by Marco Island residents:
THEY CLAIM TO BE A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER WITH AN EMERGENCY AND ARE IN URGENT NEED OF MONEY:
You think it’s your grandson/granddaughter calling, panicked because he/she needs you to wire money to help fix a car, get out of jail or a hospital emergency room, or leave a foreign country without the rest of the family finding out. Or a stranded friend emails and asks you to wire money overseas. In reality, it’s a scammer who sleuthed out your grandchild’s name, or hacked your friend’s email account. To make sure it’s not really a loved one in trouble, call a number you know to be genuine, and check the story out with other people in your circle. You also can ask the caller some questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer. NEVER give the caller any personal and/or financial information.
THEY WANT YOU TO PAY TO COLLECT YOUR WINNINGS:
Legitimate lotteries or sweepstakes don’t require you to pay insurance, taxes, or shipping to claim what you’ve won. Scammers pretend to be with banks and well-known companies like WalMart and Publishers Clearing House to make you think it’s the real deal. They will send you a letter advising you of your winnings and attach a check or money-order as partial-payment of your alleged winnings, and ask you to cash or deposit the check and wire money back to them for insurance, taxes or shipping purposes. The check/money-order will turn out to be a counterfeit and most likely you will not find out about it until after you have wired the money. Scammers tell you to use these services so they can get “your” money before you realize you’ve been scammed. No matter how convincing the reason(s), NEVER send money to claim a prize.
OVERPAYMENT FOR PURCHASED ITEMS:
Selling items on the internet by using eBay, Craigslist or other online venues has become more prevalent. The “buyer” will send you a check greater than the sale amount and ask that the difference be wired to a third party who is arranging shipping. The check will turn out to be counterfeit and you will be responsible to the bank for cashing or depositing it, and suffer a monetary loss.
THEY WANT YOU TO ACT IMMEDIATELY:
The key to successful scams/fraud schemes is getting you to send money before you find out the legitimacy of the caller/solicitor. The more time you have to verify who the caller is and obtain as much information regarding the purpose of the solicitation, the more likely you’ll figure out if it is legitimate or a scam. Resist the pressure to act immediately before you have verified all the information provided to you by the caller/solicitor.
If you have been a victim to these or other types of scams/solicitations or have any questions, contact the Marco Island Police Department at 239-389-5050.
You may also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261.