CENTREVILLE — Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann wants citizens to share with their family — especially older family members who may not be on social media — the following common scams. People are home more and phones are ringing with calls, unfortunately it’s not been a good time for our local community, noted Hofmann.
The following scams are most prevalent:
Persons pretending to represent a company such as Delmarva Power or Amazon
Delmarva Power will not call demanding payment by gift cards / Google play cards etc. to keep your power on. The scammers are saying that the bill is past due and they are on the way to shut it off. Sadly, residents are becoming victims to this. Hang up and call Delmarva power with the number on your bill if you feel you owe a balance, don’t fall victim to paying out of fear with a gift card.
Amazon, persons acting as agents or Amazon security for the company are calling consumers with the victims name and phone number saying that their Amazon account has been compromised and somebody has committed fraudulent charges and the consumer can pay half of the balance by gift cards to restore their good standing with Amazon.￼ Hang up and log into your account to verify purchases, and if you do see fraud, contact Amazon directly from the account page or call the number listed on the Amazon home page.
These scammers are very good and they’re attempting to get users to logon through a bogus webpage that allows them to access your computer. Some are just having consumers pay half of the fraudulent charges, this is a complete scam.
Medical Needs — it’s been reported that persons or calling saying that consumers are not using all of their medical benefits and are eligible for types of pain management such as knee braces, and other amenities to aid in their comfort. Often they are requesting some personal information such as Social Security number or an address etc. If you need the services contact your healthcare provider and ask them for a referral, do not give personal information out over the phone
Bogus Police Agencies or Social Security — these scammers are very good, they are very well spoken and they understand police language, they are calling people saying that their Social Security number was used in some type of an illegal operation in another state and there has been a warrant issued for the person. They are asking the person to pay a certain amount of money to get the charges dropped, they are extremely convincing and have information about our local community, most of which can be found just with an Internet search through sites like Spokeo. If you think that there is a warrant out, due to this activity, just call our office and validate this information. Police departments will not call asking for any type of money.
Sweepstakes winnings and lotteries — if you win the lottery, no one is going to call you and ask you to pre-pay the taxes in advance buy a gift card or other form of payment. We all know that the IRS and State will be getting their fair ( their opinion) at tax time. We all wish we were that lucky where we were randomly chosen to win $7 million, and only had to pay $1500 in taxes, but sadly the scam is often believed and many people sit and wait for the sweepstakes companies to show up after they have paid money by gift card.
Grandparents Scam — often information about our families is easily located by people just looking at Facebook accounts or other types of social media, often these callers will call saying that their grandson or someone who sounds like their grandson or granddaughter has been incarcerated and needs bail money and lawyers fees. Often the caller sounds like the sibling and family members want to help out, they callers request gift cards again and hours later our victims find out that their relative has not been incarcerated, does not need lawyer fees and or has not been involved in any type of accident. If you receive these calls always call another family member to validate this situation. No one is going to refuse medical care to someone involved in an accident and wait to save their their life to get a Google prepaid gift card.￼
The sheriff’s office encourages sharing this information with family members and let them know that these and many other types of scams are occurring daily by phone and by email. The simplest thing to do is hang up and not provide any further information. ￼You may report the attempted scam to our office at 410-758-0770.
Many community members often do not report these and any other types of scams such as the guy calling to say that your computer has a virus and they need to login remotely, said Hofmann, however we encourage anyone who is a victim of a scam to report it to our office.￼
“Many times after money has been transferred it is not something that we can recover,” said Hofmann, “because a lot of these scams are occurring overseas or Internet based using phone numbers that are almost untraceable. Although we will make every effort in an attempt to arrest and charge an individual committing these scams, often because they occur out of the country we are not able to determine who the caller / suspect was.”￼￼￼
“As I always say, if you need advice on a situation please call our office at 410-758-0770,” said Hofmann, “Let’s try to help keep them out of our community.”
Alerts and other information are available through the app — search Queen Anne’s Sheriff from your App Store for updates, submitting anonymous tips, crimes in your area and emergency alerts.
“Let’s all look out for each other,” said Hofmann.