Press-Republican

Local News

March 26, 2014

Police: Local lost $850 to phone scam

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The call was unsettling, she said.

“(It) really makes me wonder how secure my information really is. It makes me wonder how these people can just search a name and find a phone number and target them.”

MONEY-TRANSFER CARD

Harris said she is not the person who police say wired $850 to the caller.

On Thursday, that victim of the scam was instructed to go to a local retailer, like Wal-Mart or Walgreens, and put money on a money-transfer card to pay a fine to prevent arrest, Beebie said.

“It’s like the 21st-century version of Western Union,” he described the process.

The person scratches off a film on the back of the card, revealing a transfer number and then calls the scammer back and reads it to him, Beebie said.

Imposters can then use the number to wire the money to themselves.

PURSUING LEADS

The $850 the person wired to the scammer had not been recovered, Beebie said, but officers in both the patrol and detective division of the City Police Department are working on the case.

“We are actively pursuing all leads, but the issue is we have to deal with cellphone companies, subpoenas.”

Police must receive legal permission to obtain surveillance video of the store where the person bought the money-transfer card and to review other evidence, like phone records, he said.

“There’s a lot to do.”

FOUR SCENARIOS

Beebie said city residents have reported three other scam scenarios, in addition to the fictional story of the arrest warrant for failure to show up for jury duty.

One has received national attention, he said. In that ruse, a caller claims that there is a problem with IRS tax returns and says the call recipient owes a fine.

In the third scam, a fake computer technician tells the person they have computer problems and asks for a payment to fix them.

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