Be aware of scams and financial theft

Sheriff Lee Foster - Contributing Columnist

As Newberry County Sheriff, I am committed to protect people from being the victims of crime. While we maintain a robust investigative team and have consistently had one of the highest clearance (solve) rates in the State of South Carolina, it is always better to prevent crime before it happens. We know that are efforts are working because Newberry County is consistently ranked as one of the safest counties in South Carolina as well. This office is very active in our efforts to provide information and programs that limit our citizens to exposure and the fall out of crime.

One of the most prolific crimes perpetrated on our citizens is scams and financial theft through deception. There are so many different scheme going on now that the entire edition of this paper could be dedicated to the different ways people can be flimflammed of their money.

Today I would like to discuss three of the most prominent scams being used.

The IRS scam is when a person either gets a personal phone call or an e-mail from a fictitious Internal Revenue Service. The assumed agent threatens the citizen with jail or high fine if they do not settle with the “government.” The fraudulent agent will then advise the citizen to either purchase a Visa gift card, itunes card, Green Dot cash cards or a money order and send to an address. The government would never ask for payment with a gift card or music card. Once these card are purchased and sent, they are immediately sent to an overseas account.

The second scheme is the failing to show for jury duty scam. A fraudulent government official will call and tell the citizen they have failed to show for jury duty, which is considered contempt of court. The fake government official will then tell the citizen they were sentenced to jail, BUT, they can avoid jail by sending a fine. The fines are levied in much the same way the IRS scam, through the purchase of gift cards. Even if someone failed to show up for jury duty, they would never be called with a sentence without having gone before a judge and having a hearing.

The final scam for this discussion is a call from a grandchild in which they state they are at fault in a fatal accident or have wound up in jail. The call is muffled and then an “official” comes on the phone to state that the grandchild was being held in jail (sometimes in a foreign country) and was facing extreme penalty. The caller then begins the ask. They give specific directions to sending money orders or to obtain cash cards and provide the numbers to the scammers. Once the numbers are provided, they can be cashed anywhere on Earth.

Most of the scams affecting American citizens are coming from countries that the United States has no extradition or investigative treaties. DO NOT trust caller ID with these callers. People can use a simple application to make a caller ID read as they wish. By using this app, it is difficult to trace the call.

The best way to combat these calls is to simply hang up. If they persist, tell the scammer that you have reported this to the Sheriff’s Office. You are under no obligation to talk with these people. The keys to these scams are the ask for cash cards, money order numbers, and itune cards. Government agencies would not accept this type of payment.

Benjamin Franklin said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this case it is certainly true.

While the men and women of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Office are always here to help you, because these scams run outside of the United States identification, prosecution, and restitution are extremely unlikely if not simply impossible.

We believe that an informed citizen acting in partnership with proactive law enforcement can prevent crime rather than react to. Remember, if it does not sound right, hang up and call law enforcement and if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is!

Sheriff Lee Foster

Contributing Columnist

Lee Foster is the sheriff of Newberry County.

Lee Foster is the sheriff of Newberry County.