‘Tis the season

Scott Ballard District Attorney

November 28, 2013

‘Tis the season…

No, not that season.

I’m talking about scam season. Crooks are working overtime to get your money.

One scheme is the “Missed Jury Duty Scam.” As always, the scam artists zero in on the elderly. They call on the phone and identify themselves as a deputy or they use the name of an actual employee of the clerk’s office. They say, “We had court recently and you didn’t honor your summons for jury duty. Our courts view this matter very seriously and you are in big trouble. If we have to, we’ll come out and arrest you. But, it would make it a lot easier for both of us if you just pay the $1,000 fine. We prefer that you pay us with a blue dot card from Wal-Mart. Just call us with the number on the card and we’ll take care of it from there.”

If you get a call like that, it’s bogus. That’s not the way the system operates. Please don’t fall for it.

Another scam targets retail stores. One person buys an item, let’s say a camera. He gets a receipt. Then, his partner goes into the store with the receipt and shoplifts an identical item. When the alarm sounds as he leaves the store, he produces the receipt.

I know—that should never work for lots of reasons. But, it must work somewhere, because crooks keep doing it.

If you still pay your bills with checks and mail payment from your home mailbox by raising the flag on the box, look out! People will steal your mail and your identity with it. Just think of all the valuable information they get about you just by opening the envelope containing the check to pay your Visa bill. Soon, “you” will be making all types of purchases with your credit card and with forged checks. Law enforcement recommends that you drop such payments into those blue Post Office boxes around town or at the actual Post Office.

Another trick is the “Bonding Out a Relative” scam. You get a call in the middle of the night. “I’m sorry to bother you, ma’am, but this is Captain Smith at the jail. We have your nephew (insert the name of the black sheep in your family) locked up and he asked that we call you to make bond for him. If you would like to do that, we can take payment over the phone with your credit card—just give us the number and the date of expiration.” And there you go.

I wish crooks would exert the energy on legitimate work that they pour into scams. But, they won’t.

So, be on the lookout for them. And, if you are contacted by a scam artist, call law enforcement immediately.

We’ve got a nice little cot waiting for them.