Common Online and Telephone Scams



 In an effort to assist our citizens in recognizing common scams that they are targets of this page will provide you with the following information.

Ghana Letter Scam – Same concept as the Nigerian Letter Scam but they source and content will be from and about Ghana.

Nigerian Letter Scam – The scheme relies on convincing a willing victim, who has demonstrated a “propensity for larceny” by responding to the invitation, to send money to the author of the letter in Nigeria in several installments of increasing amounts for a variety of reasons.

Payment of taxes, bribes to government officials, and legal fees are often described in great detail with the promise that all expenses will be reimbursed as soon as the funds are spirited out of Nigeria. In actuality, the millions of dollars do not exist, and the victim eventually ends up with nothing but loss. Once the victim stops sending money, the perpetrators have been known to use the personal information they’ve obtained for a variety of other criminal activities.

Visa/Mastercard Email Scam – This scam involves the target receiving a letter or email from someone who purports that you have won a large sum that is sponsored by Visa and Mastercard. The email or letter will ask you for some personal information. Often not bank accounts in the first correspondence. They will ask you banking information if they get you to respond to the information requests.

Visa and MasterCard Telephone Credit Card Scam –   Victims receive a call from someone claiming to be a Visa or MasterCard representative. The representative provides a badge number, and indicates the person’s credit card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern. The caller provides the name of the bank issuing the card and asks whether the person purchased an item such as an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a marketing company based in Arizona. When the person says “no,” the caller indicates a credit will be applied to the card, and asks to verify the person’s address.

The caller then says: “I will be starting a fraud investigation,” advising the person to call the 1-800 number listed on the back of the card and ask for security – listing a six digit number to refer to when calling.

Then, the caller asks to verify the person’s card, asking the person to turn it over and look for seven numbers. The first four numbers are part of the card number, and the last three are security numbers. After the call, a new purchase of $497.99 is charged to the card.

Canadian Lottery Scam – Item 1 is an example of the Canadian Lottery Scam letters sent to potential victims. The letter makes it appear you have won a large amount of money through the Lottery. They even enclose a check (Item 2) for the amount of taxes you owe. The scam revolves around you cashing the bogus check and returning the money to the scammer. You of course never see any of the lottery winnings.

Counterfeit Postal Money Orders – This scam has many variations. Here are a few we have seen over the years.

Variation 1) You will be contacted by someone usually of the opposite sex online either via a chat room, email, or social network. They will begin to form a relationship to gain your trust. They will make you feel that your personal relationship will grow into something more. They will then began to speak about a needing some help with some business payments and will eventually work you into accepting a large amount of postal money orders that appear to be legitimate. They will ask you to send the postal money orders onto several people with a request they keep 1/2 the money and return the other 1/2 to the scammer. They will make an excuse that the post office only had $1000.00 money orders instead or $500.00 or that they issued them in the wrong denomination.  Either way if someone cashes the money orders and returns 1/2 the money they soon find out that the money orders are counterfeit and they are out the full amount.

Variation 2) You will be contacted via an online sale for eBay or Craigslist etc… They will purchase what you have for sale. They will send you over the amount owed for the item in Postal Money Orders and will request you return the over-payment to them. Now often they have your item for sale and you pay them back for fraudulent postal money orders.

Variation 3) You will receive  an envelope in the mail with several postal money orders. The letter will ask for your assistance in cashing the money orders. Either they are under some time of duress or there is an emergency situation with keeps them from accessing a bank. They ask you to keep 1/2 of the money and return the rest to them.

Jailer Scam – This scam revolves around a telephone call. Caller ID will often indicated a government or correctional institution from a foreign country. *(Caller ID is easy to fake) The caller will stated what correctional facility they are from. They will advise you that your grandson or grand-daughter is in custody and needs bond money. They will then put a person on who sounds like your grandchild. They will tell you that they were doing someone a favor while driving in a foreign country and gave someone a ride. Often they say police pulled them over and searched the vehicle and their passenger had drugs on them that they didn’t know about. They will reassure you that they were just trying to help someone out with a ride when they were innocently caught up in the crime.

They will then put the jailer back on the phone. They jailer will tell you that if you wire $1,500  or $2,000 to them they will release your grand child and they will not have to return to the foreign country for court. They will advise you that the bond will take care of the court case. Once they send the money people often contact family members and learn that their grandchild is at home and was never in the foreign country.