Twelve fraud reports that ended with fraud victims cumulatively losing nearly $90,000 have prompted St. Joseph County Sheriff William Redman's office to issue the following warning:
St. Joseph County – September 3, 2019 – Today Sheriff William J. Redman issued a Fraud Alert and request to community to help protect family members, neighbors and friends against a rash of frauds occurring across our community and the nation. During the months of July and August the St. Joseph County Police responded to 12 Fraud Reports totaling losses of $89,589.00 by the victims.
All the scams were initiated via phone call or online message. The victims were of a variety of age ranges, although a couple of the victims were elderly, unfamiliar with technology and susceptible to criminal persuasion. One victim was a recent widow and assumed the caller was a company the deceased spouse had dealt with. One victim was deaf. The scams all cast large nets by touching large numbers of people using automated-calling or Google search results with a fake phone number.
One common payment transfer method used by almost all the scams is the use of pre-paid cards. This should be a huge red-flag that the caller is attempting to get your money through a mostly untraceable method. Sheriff Redman warns, “never purchase pre-paid gift, Mastercard, Google Play, eBay or any other type of card to make payment to anyone.” People should also take precaution when doing an online search for phone numbers for companies such as Google and Apple. Scammers have fake numbers online making the caller think they are calling a reputable company.
Sheriff Redman stated, “we want to make all of the residents of St. Joseph County aware of the techniques scammers are using. The scammers cast a very wide net and just need to catch a few people. Generally, the people caught in the scammers net are those who are vulnerable or are put into a temporary state of fear or concern by the scammer and thus are not thinking with a clear mind. The victims have recent widows and people who have been put into a state of fear regarding the safety of their personal information or the safety of family members. Often these scammers have just enough information about the victim to not immediately raise a red-flag in the mind of the victim.”
The Sheriff asked for the assistance of the public, “we need people to help protect those who might be vulnerable. Those folks that are older and not familiar with computer or technology. Those that have recently experienced trauma or the loss of a loved one and might not be clear-headed. Those who might fall victim to a caller that knows what bank they use or what city their family members lives in, or that a spouse or loved one has recently passed away.
Sheriff Redman closed by stating “we need the whole community to look out for those that might be at risk. These scams are causing very serious damage, often to those that cannot afford to lose the amounts of money they are being scammed out of.”
Summary of SJCPD July & August 2019 Fraud Reports
July 5, 2019 63-year-oldVictim found a dog on an online site, obtained photos and AKC papers for a dog wanted to purchasefrom a breeder in Oklahoma. The victim was to make a down payment for the dog and the breederwould then have the dog delivered to the South Bend Airport at which time the remainder of thepurchase price was due. The victim attempted to pay the down-payment via PayPal, but the transactionwould not go through. The breeder told the victim to then make payment with eBay gift cards. Thevictim purchased $500 in eBay gift cards and gave the numbers to the breeder. The breeder instructedthe victim that the down payment was received, however that the victim needed to also make paymentwith more card numbers to person at South Bend Airport who would be receiving the dog. The victimbecame suspicious and attempted to cancel and get a refund from the breeder. The breeder stoppedanswering the victims calls and was no longer posted online with dogs for sale.