The number of scams seems to be growing at an alarming rate - more than half a dozen warnings have been issued to consumers in our area in just the past couple of months. One phone call demands payment of a fake debt...another promises big winning in a sweepstakes drawing. These are just a couple of the scams consumers have been warned about in Georgia and South Carolina since the beginning of the year. Gena Bilbo, spokesperson for the Chatham County Sheriff's Office says, "I actually was contacted and told that I'd won the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes myself and when I asked them to bring my prize money by the office - they never showed up."
The scams are hitting law enforcement in more ways than one - both the Effingham county and Chatham County Sheriff's Offices warning of a phone scam making the rounds in recent months - claiming victims owe a fine for missing court and demanding payment by PayPal immediately. Bilbo explains, "I think the reason they target the sheriff's office in Effingham or here or Bryan county is because people typically don't question law enforcement that much - people don't question - "oh, maybe I did miss a jury summons, maybe I didn't know about it."
So why haven't they been stopped? Technology is making it more difficult than the old days when a phone call could easily be traced says Bilbo, "Occasionally we have called back the number and actually had somebody answer - they're almost impossible to trace because they are burner phones." A prepaid disposable-type phone. That means the best defense against these type of scammers is information - asking lots of questions will help you determine if it is indeed a scam...alerting authorities helps them to warn others.
If you believe you've been called by a scammer - in addition to contacting local authorities - you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Click on the link to their website associated with this story.
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