If you are a victim of a scam contact the Sheriff's Office at 540-658-4400. At the end of this informative list of SCAMS you will find some helpful links to additional SCAM complaint centers.
In all cases, scammers typically ask for payment in the form of money orders or gift cards (they will ask you to email or read out loud the gift card numbers to them). They do this because both gift cards and money orders are non-refundable once cashed, unlike a credit or debit card that typically carries zero liability for the consumer!
Scammers sometimes contact victims over the phone. They obtain phone numbers, names,and addresses from publicly available databases such as land use records, voter registration records, and social media websites. They may sometimes know more detailed information such as social security numbers from other identity thieves or from paid research websites.
- Scammer will call victim, typically posing as a police officer or attorney. They tell the victim that a family member is in jail, and that if they do not provide money to pay the bail, they will not be able to get out of jail.
- Sometimes they will have someone also pose as the family member to try to back-up the story. Scammers will often know the names, phone numbers, and addresses of family members that they have gathered from public record databases.
- Scammer will call victim, typically posing as a police officer. They will tell them they have a warrant for their arrest, but they can have the warrant quashed if they pay the scammer money. If payment is refused, they will sometimes begin making threats and screaming at the victim.
“One Ring Scam”
- Scammer will call victim from an out-of-country pay-per-minute phone number. When the victim calls back, they will begin charging their phone account. You can check a phone number's country code at http://countrycode.org/ .
Mail, E-mail, and Online Scams
The most common scams take place online. Scammers can use software to conceal their true identies online, making is nearly impossible to track them down. They often make use of a complex network of victims to launder money so that it is very difficult to trace where the money or items eventually end up. Occasionally, they will perpetuate the same scams using the U.S. Mail.
“Advance Fee Fraud Scam”
- Scammer will contact the victim through e-mail or mail, and tell them they have won a lottery or sweepstakes. They will send a very official looking message telling the victim how much money they have won, and pose as lottery agents or bankers.
- Once the victim replies, the scammer tells them that they owe taxes or fees on the money that must paid. They will ask the victim to send a money order or provide a gift card number to them so that they can release the money.
- In some cases, the scammer will send a check in the mail, and ask the victim to deposit the check. They will then tell the victim to wire money back to them.
- There are many, many variations on this theme. These include:
- Scammer claims they have money in a foreign account and need you to send money to release it to you
- Scammer emails the victim and advises they wish to hire them as a baby sitter, english tutor, driver, or other custodial caregiver. This scam is common on Care.com, Monster.com, and similar resume/job listing sites.
- Scammer responds to a victim's Ebay or Craigslist ad, and sends a check in excess of what the victim is selling their item for. The scammer asks the money be sent to a mover or escrow agent
- Scammer is selling an item, and simply takes your money. Remember, for ebay transactions, Paypal is the only protected way to buy and sell items. If a seller is asking for a money order or gift card, they are likely a scammer. Craigslist is meant for local sales only- you should meet the seller in person in a public place such as a grocery store or the Sheriff's Office, and meet during the day!
- Scammer contacts a victim through a dating website. They will take elaborate efforts to make themselves look like a real person- they may provide passports, candid photographs, or birth certificates. Soon after the online flirting begins, they will ask for money. They may claim to need the money for a plane ticket to come meet the victim, that have an investment opportunity, or they have run into some type of legal or financial trouble. They may send the victim roses or other small presents to keep up appearances.
“Stranded Aquaintance Scam”
- Scammer will hack an email address of a friend, business associate, or relative. They will claim they were on vacation and lost their passport, and need money wired to leave the country they are in.
- Scammer will offer a job to the victim in which the victim can work-at-home. They will tell the victim they are gift wrapper, payment processor, or collections agent.
- They will send the victim packages in the mail. These packages may contain physical items, such as electronics or weight loss supplements, or they may be money orders. The victim is instructed to then send the items to another location. This may be overseas, or it may be to another victim to further confuse law enforcement.
- When the victim doesn't receive their first paycheck, the scammer may tell them to keep the items they received until payment arrives.
Some scammers commit fraud face-to-face. They will approach the victim with some type of ruse, and often walk away with their victim's money or other valuables.
- Scammer will knock on the front door of the victim, and advise them there were doing driveways in the area and have extra asphalt left over. They offer to resurface the victims driveway. The “asphalt” they have is often mixed with old motor oil, or is of very inferior quality. It looks ok when they finish, but will quickly degrade in bad weather.
- Sometimes the scammer will call the victim outside to look at their work, while another scammer will sneak in the back door and steal valuables. They may also ask to come inside the home, and will steal valuables while the victim is distracted.
- In a similar variation, the scammers will offer to make repairs to the home or remove trees from the property. They will either do inferior work or none at all, and may steal valuables from inside the home.
- All door-to-door salesmen require a Stafford County solicitation license, unless they are working for a religious, charitable, or political organization, or if they are farmers or fishermen selling locally caught or grown items. When in doubt, ask to see their solicitation license from Stafford County, and if they do not have one call the Sheriff's Office!
- Scammer will approach the victim. The scammer will complain they are lost, and ask for help. The scammer may flash a large amount of money around. While speaking with the victim, he will signal a second scammer who acts as though he does not know the first one. The second scammer will caution the first one about flashing his money. The first scammer will ask the victim to hold on to his money, but as a sign of “trust” will ask the victim to put their money into a hankerchief or prayer cloth, which the scammer will tie together. The scammer will then quickly switch the cloth for an identical one filled with newspaper clippings. By the time the victim realizes they've been tricked, the scammers have both already left.
- The Internet Crime Complaint Center- www.ic3.gov . Victims of online scams and frauds can file a complaint here, which goes into a database maitained by the FBI and National White Collar Crime Commission.
- U.S. Postal Inspection Service- postalinspectors.uspis.gov .
- The FBI scam website- http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/internet_fraud