BERKELEY SPRINGS — Cacapon Resort State Park hosted a presentation late last week on patron fraud protection. The Consumer Education and Fraud Awareness Seminar turned into held using Consumer Representative Kanette Petry of the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office and Morgan County Sheriff K.C. Bohrer.
Petry is the regional representative for the greater Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Since assuming this position in May 2014, she has been teaching consumers approximately risks, fraud, and capacity to perceive thefts. She has a bachelor’s diploma in accounting and a regulation diploma from the WVU College of Law.
Sheriff Bohrer has a 40-year profession in regulation enforcement. He is a graduate of the West Virginia State Police Academy and FBI National Academy. Bohrer previously worked as a first-rate crimes investigator in Berkeley County and Frederick County, Va. He investigated primary crimes, together with a stint that specializes in crimes towards the aged and fraud.
During the presentation, the officers discussed frauds, schemes, and present-day traits in various frauds so that citizens can shield themselves. Petry said there are quite a few scams obtainable. Sometimes the primary premise is the same — a time-tested rip-off that works. But, scammers would possibly change details a chunk. “Scams come in all forms,” she stated. “Someone should take advantage of a person on the street, or in the home, by way of a cellphone, or on the Internet and in the media.”
Scammers use social media to discover objectives. Age companies commonly extra affected are the ones 18-25, Petry stated, because they are considered younger, naïve, and extra vulnerable, and those age 65 and older because the ones might be more trusting. Prevalent phone scams are the ones that try to market something or tell the goal. There is a financial responsibility she or he should fulfill.
“They would possibly name presenting assist filing a tax go back, offering to assist with a car warranty, or cleaning up your credit score,” Petry said. “A new one is set braces for knees and backs. It’s an try to get non-public records or a commitment from you.” She stated a person has to do simple research on his or her name. Type the name inside the top line of the hunt engine. Even the maximum careful people could have an extensive internet life.
“I even have daughters,” she said. “The idea all in their settings had been non-public. They set their privacy settings excessive. But it’s now not without a doubt personal. One appeared herself up and saw pages and pages showing up.” Scammers use social media to discover information about a person, like pals and own family names, addresses or employment facts, likes and dislikes. Sheriff Bohrer said too many human beings announce they will be out of the city and publish pictures of vacation even as they’re away from domestic, displaying would-be burglars the house might be vacant. He said to attend until returning home to submit photos.
Petry pointed out one current scam wherein a person claims to be from the IRS. The IRS will not name the demanding price of a rate. “They have a variety of your predominant statistics already,” she stated, “and they may ask you to confirm something easy and inform you that you have a responsibility to pay the IRS.” “They’re seeking to advantage your self-assurance,” said Bohrer.
“They’ll let you know to pay it now, and here’s how,” Petry stated. “The caller already knows a lot approximately you and may figure out how a lot of cash you have got or can pay. And they’ll dangle up while you’re savvy, or you may dangle up.” Another smartphone scam is a caller claiming to be from Medicaid or Medicare and asking to confirm positive points of private or financial facts. Scammers seek obituaries and try to defraud widows or widowers. Others are probably sweepstakes callers, telling an individual he or she has won 1,000,000 bucks or a high-priced vehicle or journey. The size is that the individual’s informed he or she needs to pay customs’ prices or some different prices. Once someone is hooked for one charge, scammers may be again for more.
Bohrer and Petry each have cautioned victims of sweepstakes/lottery scams and instructed them now not to keep making payments. These scams can even come from foreign countries like Nigeria or China and often goal older age businesses. “I talked to a man for an hour as soon as who concept he’d gained a Canadian lottery,” Bohrer stated. “I concept I’d gotten via to him, but as he changed into leaving, he said, ‘I suppose I’ll get it if I make this one final charge.’” He described one case that led to an indictment. They had been individuals of the Chinese navy. China didn’t cooperate.
They advised about screening phone calls. “Use caller ID and see if it’s a name from out of place,” stated Petry. “If it says ‘unknown caller,’ has a blocked quantity, or is from out of place and you don’t anticipate the decision, don’t the solution it. Now there’s this factor known as phishing. They use a nearby area code, and it’ll look like a local variety. Let the answering system get it because if you answer it, it might be a time while you’re distracted or susceptible. Once they get the answering system some instances, they will cease calling.”
She additionally said if the call is speaking back, don’t press various to be placed on the do no longer call list or any other number. That can position the target into a different listing of folks that’ll name with a rip-off. The target may be proactive in the prevention of these scams by using telling the caller he or she is aware of it’s a rip-off and passing the phrase along approximately these scams. Bohrer said the sheriff’s workplace gets calls each day from a person scammed in Morgan County; the population is only 17,000. The ones being mentioned are commonly the simplest one-fourth of all victims.
Some of the worst instances he’s seen include abuse of the aged. “I had a case years in the past of a lady who got concerned with a few Nigerians,” said Bohrer. “They told her she’d received hundreds of thousands; however, she had to ship cash first. When she’d paid $60,000, she became mentioned us. We did some matters to shield her, like changing her wide telephone variety. They might call 911 and fake to be a relative worried approximately to get a person to check on her. They’d ask to be known as from her domestic to let them realize she become OK. Then, they’d her new smartphone range. They even had her convinced I turned into the scammer and not an investigator.”
Fraud of the elderly is occasionally dedicated using own family, he stated. Or caregivers scouse borrow from the family. “We get those two to 3 times every week,” he stated. “You should bear in mind (cautiously) who should be your strength of legal professional. And you could have a signer and co-signer on the electricity of legal professional. Each you will check on the opposite.”
Reconcile financial institution statements each month. One price that’s not straight away recognized and forgotten can grow to be hundreds or heaps of greenbacks through the years because the expenses will increase growth if omitted. Petry stated banks would generally refund one or charges if caught proper away. They said scams aren’t restrained to phone calls. Lottery or sweepstakes scams won’t usually come from a cellphone name. Sweepstakes scams can begin by using mail.
“There’s one that seems like Publisher’s Clearing House,” Petry stated. “But it asks you to confirm sure information and pay a fee. People have come to me who gave tens of many dollars in fees on sweepstakes like customs’ fees. I inform human beings if they didn’t enter, they can’t win. You mustn’t pay expenses in case you’ve truly gained something.”
Scammers can also be door-to-door salespeople like the vacuum cleaner guy, or driveway sealers and pavers, as Bohrer referred to as them. “Buy your vacuum at the shop,” said Bohrer. “There’s a paper towel sales rip-off right here; consider it or no longer.” Scams may be in a text message with an attachment or an electronic mail with an attachment. “If you see a text or email you’re no longer waiting for with an attachment, don’t open it,” stated Petry. “Don’t ever open a zipper file until you’re awaiting it. There can be viruses or adware with a purpose to compromise your tool.”
They suggested saving personal records on a laptop or a different device. “Save it all to a disc or flash power,” Petry stated. “Don’t shop your passwords, bank statements, or tax returns on the pc. Change your passwords frequently and lead them to very robust. Don’t use not unusual elements related to what you like to cope with. The scammers can get that statistics on the Internet.”
They suggested password apps if wanting help with developing passwords. The app will keep the touchy password facts and require the person to input every other password to get into it. Petry additionally recommended unplugging the tool from the modem periodically. Scammers can hijack an IP address and cover their region. Disconnecting from the modem quickly breaks the connection and makes it tougher to re-establish a connection. They will circulate on to a goal a person else. Call the West Virginia Attorney General workplace in Martinsburg at 267-0239 or the nearby sheriff’s branch for more records or questions.