On average the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office receives five reports a day from people advising they have been contacted by a scammer. The most popular scam right now is the IRS scam where a resident is contacted by someone pretending to work for the IRS and threatening the person with arrest or a law suit if they don’t pay back taxes.
Another scam this week was from a Town of Merrill man who received communication from a friend’s social media account which had been hacked seeking money. That scam involves someone posing as a friend claiming they are stuck in another country and having lost their money needing immediate financial help to get home.
Several scam victims have been identified after reporting they had sent sums of money to social media friends overseas. Online relationships are formed over several months before money is requested. Victims begin to trust the scammer and feel they are true friends or have the possibility of a future together but they need financial help. The request for money normally comes several months into the online relationship.
Other scams that have been reported include the Lottery Scam which indicates you won a fictitious lottery, Grandparent Scam where someone pretends to be a grandchild in need of money, and the Puppy Scam where dogs are said to be for sale but when paid for require additional un-notified fees before delivery.
With every call, the would-be victims are informed there is little the Sheriff’s Office can do when scammers call or money is lost to them. These calls originate overseas, normally in third world countries. Computers are used to spoof caller ID’s into thinking the number is from Washington D.C., someone in your local community, or a known business.
When you get a scam call, you are encouraged to tell them you know they are a thief and hang up, inform your friends and neighbors, and if you know someone who is in a perceived online relationship, educate them on the dangers of these chats and especially in sending them money.