By Mike Fletcher Kokomo Tribune
---- — Like the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
That’s the message area police are sending out to people as a number of scams have been hitting the area.
Kokomo police said one person reported a scam where a caller said the person had won a Reader’s Digest Sweepstakes for $850,000, but would need to provide a $300 check to claim the money, Capt. Chris Smith said.
Smith said fortunately, a relative stopped the person before a check was sent.
Indiana State Police say another, similar scam involving a caller claiming to represent the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes has surfaced in southeastern Indiana and could very well be occurring statewide. Though not a new scam, it has been successful for the scammers in other areas of the country. As part of the scam, a caller will phone a citizen and say they have placed second or third in the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes and have won hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they are asked to wire money via Western Union to cover taxes and processing fees.
This is a scam, state police warn.
The actual Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes winners are never contacted by phone and they do not have to pay any money up front to receive their cash prize.
The following are other scams reported in the area:
• Fake FBI Scam: Scammers identify themselves as the FBI and accuse a citizen of viewing or distributing pornographic or copyrighted content and seek money to clear the computer or request the victim pay a fine to avoid prosecution.
• Affordable Care Act Scam: Scammers call to confirm eligibility or want to send you an insurance card and seek to collect personal information such as bank account and social security numbers. Scammers use the information to open credit accounts and for other illegal purposes.
• Medicare Card Scam: Scammers contact senior citizens to obtain personal information for a new Medicare card. Scammers use the information to open credit accounts and for other illegal purposes.
• American Cash Awards Scam: Citizens are contacted and are told to send money by a prepaid card or money order to obtain large amounts of money or get new vehicles. The money is sent by the victim, but the prize is never delivered. The citizen is told to send more money to collect the prize.
• Sales Representative Scam: Representatives for companies such as Avon or Thirty-One Gifts receive an order for goods and a check is sent to the sales representative for well over the cost of the goods. The scammer/buyer usually states there has been a mistake on the amount on the check and requests the sales representative immediately send the difference back to the scammer/buyer by Western Union or a prepaid money card. The check sent by the scammer/buyer to the victim for the goods is a fraudulent check.
It is important to remember, if you fall for one of these scams and send money to some location within the U.S, it’s nearly impossible for U.S. law enforcement to recover the money and locate the scammers, according to state police. If the money is sent outside the United States, there is absolutely nothing U.S. law enforcement can do to help you recover your loss.
The prosecution of these individuals is difficult, and many of these contacts originate outside of the United States. There can be many variations of these scams. Please do not provide any personal information to individuals or organizations that you are not personally familiar with. Also, by having and maintaining good computer virus and malware software, you can reduce your risk for computer fraud and becoming a victim of a scam. If you are a victim, notify the Office of the Indiana Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation and your nearest law enforcement agency.