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Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Issues July 2023 Scams Update

(Walhalla, SC)----------In our continuing efforts to educate and inform our citizens, and to prevent them from becoming victims of a scam, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is releasing today our July 2023 Scams Update.

The Sheriff’s Office spoke with a citizen who stated that they received a letter from the Internal Revenue Service in regards to his personal information being used to access his information from the IRS. According to the complainant, the IRS is conducting an investigation into the incident.

The complainant said that he is monitoring his credit and banking information. At this time, the deputy was informed that the complainant has not lost any money. The complainant was told to file a report with the Sheriff’s Office.

“This citizen is taking the proper steps to insure that they are protected,” says Master Deputy Jimmy Watt, Public Information Officer for the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. “In fact, we recommend that you regularly monitor your banking information on a regular basis to check for any discrepancies or fraudulent activity. Also, you can obtain a free credit report, every 12 months, from each of the three credit reporting agencies so we recommend that you take advantage of this service they offer under the law.”

A deputy took a report of a reported fraud at an Oconee County business. An employee of the business told the Deputy that he received a call from two different numbers. The callers stated that a check had bounced from the business. The callers instructed the employee to take $2,600.00 and deposit the cash into a bitcoin machine.

The employee removed the money from the safe and was headed to deposit the money in the bitcoin machine when he was stopped by a member of management. The manager instructed the employee not to make the deposit. No money was lost.

“Scammers always like to create a sense of urgency in order for people to react in ways they may not otherwise,” says Master Deputy Watt. “It is important to slow the process down if someone calls you and states that there is a problem. One key indicator of a scam, as in this call, is that there was a request to make a deposit into a bitcoin machine. An unusual form of payment or a request for a deposit of this nature may be indicators of a scam.”

The Sheriff’s Office took a report in reference to mail being stolen from someone’s mail box. The victim told the deputy that when they returned from vacation that they saw their mailbox open and no mail.

The victim’s stated that they should have received mail for medical bills, credit card statements and a bank statement. The deputy gathered evidence as he opened an investigation and that information, along with the investigation, was turned over to an Investigator with the Fraud Unit of the Criminal Investigations Bureau.

In an unrelated investigation, the Sheriff’s Office recently arrested 27 year old Ashton Brianna Brown of Seneca on 37 counts of Petit Larceny in relation to an investigation of the theft of mail from residences’ last December that were located in the Seneca area. The arrest warrants were obtained by an Investigator with the Fraud Unit of the Criminal Investigations Bureau.

At this time, Brown remains in jail on a combined $185,000 surety bond. Brown will have to wear an electronic monitoring device, as a condition of bond, should she be released from jail.

“If you are planning to travel on vacation or for business, we recommend that you either have your mail service suspended while you are away or have a family member, trusted friend or neighbor pick up your mail for you,” according to Master Deputy Watt. “Also, we recommend not placing any payment, which you are making by mail, in your mailbox with the flag on your box raised. This could be a tipoff to a thief wanting to steal mail from your mailbox.”

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