MOUNT VERNON — Scammers are coming for you, and their entry point is often your cellphone.
Recently, a computer refund scam nearly cost a Knox County woman $20,000. It started with a phone call, and ended with her computer being locked by the scammer. Luckily, the scam was revealed before the woman lost her money.
Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer reports that the woman was contacted by phone by someone claiming there was a problem with her computer security plan.
The individual told the woman she was going to receive a $299 refund. When $29,999 came up in the woman’s checking account, she was asked to withdraw $20,000 and send the money via FedEx or UPS to a location in California. The woman was told that if she did not comply, she would lose all funds in her account.
The woman discovered the funds in her checking account had actually been taken out of her savings account via a transfer by the scammer. She contacted the sheriff’s office, and deputies were able to recover the funds prior to the cash being shipped, according to Shaffer.
Other scams making the rounds include rental schemes, where the ‘agent’ backs out at the last minute before a view but says they will let the apartment if you send an immediate cash deposit; tax back scams, where the scammer claims they represent the IRS and say you can be arrested if you don’t make an immediate payment, and the ‘arrested relative,’ where the scammer pretends to be law enforcement asking for bond money for a relative who is in jail. In these instances, the scammer is counting on panicking their victim by saying there is an immediate problem that must be fixed right away.
Shaffer said money should not be shipped or wired to people you do not know.
“Do not give out personal information if you did not initiate the call,” Shaffer, writing in a press release regarding the computer security plan scam attempt, said. “Do not give out personal information if you did not initiate the call.”
When suspicious, it’s best just to hang up. Fred Mickley, of Danville, was phoned by scammers claiming he’d won a $3.5 million prize from Publisher’s Clearing House, and all he needed to do was send $950 to collect. Mickley got off the phone and reported the call to the sheriff’s office.
“I said to (the scammer), there’s fool born every minute, but not today,” Mickley, speaking with the News, said.
A list of recent scams making the rounds is available on the Knox County Sheriff’s website, knoxcountysheriff.com.
Anyone concerned that they are the target of a scam should contact the sheriff’s office at (740) 397-3333 or other local law enforcement, Shaffer said.