Ask a Sheriff: What are some of the latest scams that citizens should be aware of?

The Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office takes numerous complaints from individuals who have lost money through a scam. Some of the common scams that you should watch out for are:

•Secret shopper scam. This scam involves a criminal contacting you, usually through email, and asking you to sign up as a secret shopper. They will offer to send you a cashier’s check to purchase items and then rate your experience as a shopper when buying those items. The criminal will ask that you cash the check, keep a certain dollar amount and then return the rest of the money to them via a wire transfer, usually through Western Union. The cashiers check will be counterfeit and you, unfortunately, will be responsible for the loss.

•A second scam that is very similar is a situation where you are advertising something for sale on Craigslist, eBay or by some other means. The criminal will tell you that they want to buy the item you are selling. Again, they will send you a cashier’s check for much more than the amount you were asking. They will tell you to keep what you were asking for plus the cost of shipping the item to them. They will then ask you to send to them what is left over via a money wire, usually Western Union. The cashiers check will be counterfeit and you will be responsible for the loss.

•Another common scam that we have recently received a complaint for is someone will call you and tell you that they work for the federal government and that you are paying too much for Medicare. The criminal will ask for your banking information and Social Security number. Once they have that information they will take money from your account or they will steal your identity.

These are just a few examples of some common scams that people, unfortunately, become victims of. Most of the money that these criminals obtain leaves the country and goes to such places as Canada, the United Kingdom or Nigeria. The FBI is aware of these scams and does their best to try to shut them down. The best defense is for you to be aware of these types of scams. Never give your personal information to anyone that you do not know over the phone or via email.

Always be suspicious anytime someone wants to send you money and then asks you to send some of the money back. If you are in doubt about a situation, contact the sheriff’s office or your local police department and talk to an officer about what you have received.

If you feel that you have been a victim of identity theft, it is important to monitor your credit reports. The three major credit bureaus are Experian 1-888-397-3742, Trans Union 1-800-680-7289 and Equifax 1-800-525-6285. Everyone is entitled to one free copy of their credit report annually from each of the three credit bureaus. Visit the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office website for more information on identity theft.

• To submit questions: e-mail [email protected]