How to Identify a SCAM.
Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards urges residents to become familiar with signs of a phone scam to avoid becoming a victim. While phone scams are most common, these scams can also take other forms such as over email. “As technology improves, con artists are finding it easier to initiate phone scams on unsuspecting individuals,” said Sheriff Edwards. There are some steps you can take to ensure you don’t become a victim. It’s important to know the signs of a potential scam and share these with friends and family.”
Tips To Use To Avoid Becoming A Victim Of A Scam
- If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Resist the pressure to make an immediate decision. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act quickly.
- Verify the information before sending any money.
- Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an e-mail. Keep in mind that wiring money is like giving cash—once you send it, you cannot get it back.
- Don't do business with people you don't know who solicit you by telephone or over the Internet. Never give out bank account or credit card numbers or personal information to solicitors.
Signs of a Probable Scam:
- You’re told to send money to receive money or prizes.
- You’re told to send payment “immediately” via prepaid debit card or electronic money order for any reason.
- The caller uses threatening, offensive, or vulgar language.
- You receive a phone call from a “department,” but no company name is provided.
Current & Recent Scams Reported
COVID-19 Stimulus Check Scam
Please be aware that the federal government will NOT ask you to confirm personal or banking information by email, phone or text. They will also NOT demand a processing fee to expedite your stimulus payment.
These are scams, not legitimate communications from the U.S. Department of Treasury. If you have received these messages, do not click on links in emails or text messages and do not provide your personal information.
Arrest Warrant Scam
Victims report receiving a phone call stating a warrant has been issued for their arrest due to their failure to appear for jury duty. The caller, who claims to be a deputy with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office Warrants division, instructs the victim to provide a prepaid card to void the warrant and avoid arrest.
Reminder to residents: the majority of the time a valid arrest warrant is served in person by law enforcement officials; however, in some circumstances a law enforcement official may call you if you have a warrant but under no circumstance will that officer ever ask for money or any form of payment.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Cyber Crimes Center Scam
TPSO detectives received information regarding another scam to extort money from victims in the name of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Cyber Crimes Center.
This scam is believed to be connected to a virus that is automatically installed on the victims’ computer after opening a file or attachment in an email, or simply clicking on a compromised website. Once installed, the user’s computer immediately locks and a bogus message appears on the screen stating the computer has been associated with child pornography sites or other illegal online activity. To unlock their computer and to avoid other legal consequences, the user are required to pay a fine using a prepaid money card service.
This is a scam, not a legitimate communication from ICE. If you have received this message, do not pay any money or provide any personal information.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Email Scam
Several complaints have been received regarding businesses that have been contacted by fraudulent email accounts appearing to be from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The email advises, following an investigation using the FBI Intelligence Monitoring Network System, it was discovered the user has been scammed and has been approved to receive approximately $800,000 in compensation.
The users are instructed to pay $2,500 worth of required fees, which include deposit and cashier’s check conversion fees, via wire transfer or prepaid money card, in order to receive their compensation.
Anyone receiving such emails should not respond to the email in anyway, but report the incident to the FBI immediately online at www.ic3.gov.
Family Member Scam
Victims report receiving a phone call from someone who claims to be a family member. The suspect begins to tell them they are in trouble or have been arrested and need money wired to them immediately.
Victims report receiving a phone call from someone who claims to be from Equifax calling to verify your account information.
West African Money Scam
Victims report receiving a request on social media sites or apps such as Facebook or WhatsApp from an individual they do not know who will begin to message them. The suspect will continue to converse with the victim over a period of days, while speaking lovingly and affectionately and will use endearing terms such as “soul mate.” Victims then report the suspect will ask them to perform an act such as sending nude photographs or performing sexual acts live on a social media app. Once the act is complete the suspects states they are underage and what the victim has done is criminal behavior. The suspect will then threaten to go to the police or the victim’s family and friends if they do not send money to them in the form of a MoneyGram to the Bank of West Africa. This is a scam!
What should I do?
As soon as you recognize a possible scam, hang up the phone immediately. Do not attempt to engage the caller or threaten them. You never know who you are dealing with on the other end of the line. “If engaged or kept on the line, these scammers may threaten to come find you in your home, and in some cases, they may even know your address. It’s just a best practice to hang up and block a number of a known scammer,” says Sheriff Edwards.
Smartphones have features which allow users to block individual numbers to prevent repeat phone calls. There are also several smartphone applications available to help identify or block incoming phone calls from known scammers. The Federal Trade Commission also provides the National Do Not Call List Registry (https://www.donotcall.gov/) where anyone can sign up any phone number to avoid telemarketing calls. The registration does not expire but only applies to the specific phone number registered. Keep in mind, however, this only affects telemarketers, and you may still receive legitimate phone calls from other organizations such as charities, political groups, debt collectors and for surveys.
If you ever receive a phone call which you believe may be legitimate, kindly ask for information from the caller such as the caller’s name and the company. Then search for the company on the Internet and find a contact number or email address. If the call was legitimate, it should be easy to determine by contacting the company at a known number or address. Remember to never give personal information to an incoming caller. If you have questions about the legitimacy of a check, simply call the bank to inquire about its validity.
If you lose money in scam or receive threats of physical harm or violence, you should report it to the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office or your local law enforcement agency. If you believe a call may be legitimate but you have trouble validating the origin of the request, contact our agency to assist you to ensure you do not become the next scam victim.
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