Scams still around, be cyber and phone savvy

WYOMING – Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office in Idaho is reminding citizens about a recurring phone scam making the rounds in Idaho. The same, or similar, variations have been popping up in Teton, Sublette, and Lincoln counties as well.

For those living under a rock for the past decade, it would be wise to follow a simple rule: DO NOT give personal information or make a payment of any kind over the phone. NOT. EVER.

The Idaho scam has been taking advantage of people via a phone scam where a caller poses as a deputy or law enforcement of some type in order to obtain money. The called may identify himself as the local sheriff or chief of police, even using those individual’s actual names.

The caller then advises the victim they are investigating some sort of crime or court issue. The caller advises that a warrant is being issued and in order to avoid going to jail the victim needs to pay money in various ways. Typically the caller asks the victim to send money via Western Union, Green Dot money cards, and even iTunes and other gift cards that can be purchased locally and loaded with money.

The suspects have been reported as having various accents and have used the Internet to mask their true phone number on caller ID to make it look like a legitimate Sheriff’s Office phone number. In some cases, when the number is not masked, the victims have called it back to find an answering machine or voicemail indicating it is the “Sheriff’s Department” or other law enforcement and/or court entity.

This is a scam. It has been reported all over Idaho and Wyoming in several variations. No law enforcement entity or court in Idaho or Wyoming collects money in this fashion. If you have a legitimate issue with the courts, civil or criminal, fines, or are part of an investigation, then you most likely will be aware of it via paper service from a deputy or process server, or face-to-face contact with an officer.

Law enforcement and the courts do contact people by phone from time to time for various reasons, but they will NEVER require payment of money over the phone, have you wire transfer funds, or have you obtain a money or gift card from a retail store.

If you are suspicious about someone calling and identifying themselves as law enforcement or court personnel, DO NOT give out your personal information, hang up the phone, and call your local law enforcement dispatch or agency. If an officer is calling you for a legitimate reason, you can always verify by calling in to that agency, talking to an officer in person, or calling the courts directly.

If you have fallen victim to this or any other scam where money has been stolen from you, contact your local law enforcement agency and report it immediately. Frequent monitoring of your bank accounts, credit reports, email, Internet and social media accounts for suspicious activity is highly recommended especially during the holiday season. Make you have adequate security protections in place.

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