Northwest Colorado sees surge in scams
Craig — The Craig Police Department and Garfield County Sheriff’s Office have both issued alerts this week warning Northwest Colorado citizens of an increase in scams.
Scammers have been using many ploys over the phone, through emails and postal mail to reach targets, but in every case the aim was to convince victims to send money.
At least three of the individuals in Craig that were targeted reported the activity to law enforcement but not before at least two people lost thousands of dollars to the scammers, as reported in the Wednesday in “On the Record.”
In at least one case the victim was contacted by phone with the caller identifying himself or herself as law enforcement requesting the caller acquire and use gift cards to provide funds to help a relative in custody, said Craig Police Department Commander Bill Leonard.
“Law enforcement would never use this procedure,” Leonard said. “Anyone receiving this type of call should hang up and notify law enforcement.”
Similar phone scams are being used in Garfield County.
“They have done their research by checking web sites, news articles or other sources. They are using legitimate names of deputies, officers or even commanders from various agencies or officers to make their claims appear legitimate,” Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Community Relations Deputy Walt Stowe said in a news release.
Another scam making the rounds involves a letter sent through the mail or via email proclaiming the victim as a winner of lottery funds that they can receive only after sending fees to the cover processing charges, Leonard said.
“Most of these scams originate out of country and the possibility to bring closure is very slim. Sometimes they are local or in state and a case can be put together to bring closure,” Leonard said.
In a related scam, someone claiming to be from a well-known business contacts the victim who is told that the business is unable to provide a service or product. The caller, email or letter then asks the victim to provide their account information to return funds only to use the information to instead remove funds from the account.
“We would encourage our community to educate our elder community, our senior citizens, as they seem to be targeted. People who have grandparents and parents, please contact them and let them know these are scams,” Leonard said.
Six safety tips to avoid being scammed
The Craig Police Department has provided these five tips for avoiding scams.
• Do not provide personal finance or other information such as social security numbers by phone or email.
• Lock down your social media sites so that strangers cannot access information on your relatives, friends and location.
• Any unsolicited phone calls, emails or mail requesting bank information to return funds is a scam.
• Notice of foreign lottery winnings with checks enclosed or with requests for funds to cover fees involved are scams.
• If you believe you have been contacted by a scammer, do not follow the instructions outlined by the caller, email or mail and contact local law enforcement.
• If it sounds suspicious, do not take any further action prior to contacting local law enforcement.
To contact local law enforcement in Craig to report a possible scam call 970-824-8111.
How to spot a scam
The Garfield County Sherriff’s Office said that scammers share common patterns that can help consumers to determine if a call is legitimate or not.
• Make contact by phone, they may use mail but that is less likely since it is easier to trace.
• Try to insist that money is owed for something such as late taxes, overdue car payment, loans, etc.
• Offer a way to solve the problem quickly by paying through a credit card, debit card or purchasing and using various cash or gift cards.
• Develop a sense of urgency to act immediately through threats of arrest or penalties.
• Work on weekends or holidays when it is difficult to verify claims.
• Know your name or the name of a close relative or someone else in the household.
• Provide one or two call back numbers that answer with legitimate sounding recordings or actual people when you return the call.
4:19 a.m. On the 900 block of Industrial Avenue, police in Craig responded to a state parks related incident. Craig police said someone was looking around a business with flashlights, but police found the business secure and no crime had been committed.