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Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Issues August 2021 Scams Update

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–In our continuing efforts to educate and inform our citizens and to prevent them from becoming victims of scams, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is releasing today our August 2021 Scams Update.

The Sheriff’s Office received word from a citizen regarding a scam in which the citizen’s father had received a phone call from someone pretending to be his son. The caller told the victim that he had been arrested and that he had to get in touch with an attorney. The scammer stated that they had been arrested for Driving while Impaired, that they had a $90,000 bond and would need to receive at least a 10% surety in order to be released. A case number was also provided to the caller and the caller was provided a number to the courthouse. The victim almost provided their financial account information but did not provide any of that information or money to the scammer.

“We have received reports of this type of family scam before so it is not that uncommon,” says Master Deputy Jimmy Watt, Public Information Officer for the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. “Family wants to help family when there is a crisis and scammers like to take advantage of these emotions for their benefit. If you receive a phone call from a family member, who says that they have been arrested, and it sounds suspicious, or you have some questions about it, hang up and call another family member or two to inquire if that family member has been arrested. As the old saying goes, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’”

Deputies received word from a family member who was a victim of a scam. According to the family member, it began when a family member of theirs clicked on a link in an e-mail that stated they had won money. Afterwards, the victim began to receive phone calls from scammers claiming that they had won money. The scammers asked for money to be placed on gift cards in order to claim delivery of their prizes, which has cost the victim several thousands of dollars.

According to information that the deputies received, the scammers have opened up a credit card using the victim’s information and charged approximately $18,000 on the card. They then told the victim that money would be placed in her bank account, and it was. The scammers then asked the victim to send a cashier’s check in the amount of $15,000 to a designated address. The bank was able to place a hold on the check.

The scammers have also gained access to the victim’s phone number accounts and have changed the numbers. The victim also went to the bank to meet with a subject due to the promise of receiving $8 million dollars. The subject never showed up and a police officer met with the victim and informed her of the scam.

“There are many red flags in regards to this particular scam,” says Master Deputy Watt. “First, never click on a link or open an attachment in an e-mail you have received, especially if you don’t know who the sender is. If the e-mail looks suspicious, and it comes from someone you know, contact the sender to verify that they sent the e-mail to you. Another reason not to open links or attachments, or even accept phone calls from numbers you don't recognize, is that it could potentially open you up to more scams, as we have seen in this instance, plus, it could allow scammers to gain access to financial and other accounts as well as allowing them to open up lines of credit in your name. Plus, legitimate businesses will not ask you to make payments of any kind.”

“On one final note, scammers love to create a sense of urgency in order to get you to act or in some cases and make something sound too good to be true,” says Master Deputy Watt. “If it sounds too good to be true, more often than not it is. And please realize that scammers will use whatever tricks they can to get you to make emotional decisions you might not otherwise make.”

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