Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

August 30, 2012

Telephone scams — New schemes surface in region

— Here we go again. Phone scammers — many of whom are calling from outside the United States — are targeting residents in the region once again.

Just last week, a new version of an old scam hit the area with the fraudulent caller contacting a local resident — calling her “grandma” and even using her grandson’s real name — in an attempt to illegally secure money via the telephone. The schemer said he was calling from New York, had spent the night in jail, and needed his grandmother to send him a money order for $2,000 so that he could get out of jail.

Thankfully, the woman didn’t fall for the scam. The caller didn’t sound like her grandson, and the caller ID feature on her telephone showed that the telephone call was coming from Ontario Province, Canada.

And this isn’t the only scheme to hit the region in recent days. According to West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw, phone scammers are now trying to trick individuals into believing they have failed to show up for jury duty.

Victims of the scam report that an automated message claims there is a warrant for their arrest, and threatens imprisonment for a failed jury duty appearance. McGraw says the fraudulent phone calls claim to originate from a federal or state court, and says individuals can avoid jail time if they pay a fine with their credit card over the phone.

However, residents should always avoid giving out such personal information, including Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or bank account information over the telephone when dealing with strangers. Citizens should also always verify the identity of the person on the other end of the telephone. Scammers will typically just hang up if they are confronted or threatened with a call to the police or attorney general.

Telephone as well as Internet scammers are getting more sophisticated by the day, according to Sgt. M.S. Haynes, assistant detachment commander of the West Virginia State Police Princeton Detachment.

“They target elderly people, and the area code of the caller’s number is always from somewhere out of the country,” Haynes said. “The scammers are sophisticated, but we’re sophisticated in our investigations, too. They know that if they’re calling from inside this country, we’ll get them.”

Haynes said in addition to the call-for-help scam, other scams involve a request to send money to secure a prize. “Any telephone or email request to send money should raise a red flag,” he warns.

We agree. If you don’t know who the person is on the other end of the telephone asking for money or personal information — or if they claim to know you but you don’t recognize their voice or telephone number — don’t hesitate to end the call and contact local law enforcement officials.

All citizens in the region — young and old alike — must remain vigilant when it comes to such illegal telephone scams.

 

1
Text Only
Editorials
Columns
Poll

Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? After voting, go to facebook.com/bdtonline to comment.

Yes, mild allergies
Yes, severe allergies
No
     View Results
Facebook
Letters to the Editor