Scioto sheriff warns of scam circulating in area

·3 min read

Dec. 14—PORTSMOUTH — Scioto County Sheriff David Thoroughman said his office has recently got a complaint from a citizen, advising of a scam involving the use of fake checks.

The resident said that they received what appeared to be a legitimate check and then they starting getting texts advising them to deposit the check immediately and then message back when the check was deposited.

Thoroughman said that fortunately, this scam attempt had a good outcome because the resident did their research and found that this was a scam.

Thoroughman would like to remind everyone to never deposit a check and send money back to someone. And, never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or by using a money transfer service.

Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything else, tell someone — a friend, a family member, a neighbor — what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it's a scam.

Thoroughman said there are four signs that something is a scam.

—Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know and often pretend to be contacting you on behalf of the government. They might use a real name, like the Social Security Administration, the IRS or Medicare, or make up a name that sounds official. Some pretend to be from a business you know, like a utility company or even a charity asking for donations.

They use technology to change the phone number that appears on your caller ID, so the name and number you see might not be real.

—Scammers say there's a problem or a prize.

They might say you're in trouble with the government. Or you owe money. Or someone in your family had an emergency. Or that there's a virus on your computer.

Some scammers say there's a problem with one of your accounts and that you need to verify some information. Others will lie and say you won money in a lottery or sweepstakes but have to pay a fee to get it.

—Scammers pressure you to act immediately. Scammers want you to act before you have time to think. If you're on the phone, they might tell you not to hang up so you cannot check out their story.

They might threaten to arrest you, sue you or take away your driver's license. They might even say your computer is about to be corrupted.

—Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way ajd often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back. Some will send you a check (that will later turn out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.

There are numerous variations on the phone scam where someone claims to be with a government agency like the local sheriff's office, the IRS or Social Security. The goal is to get the unknowing person to give them their Social Security number or other personal identification to use in identity theft or to have that person get a gift card to pay for a supposed fine.

If you are contacted by any real government agency, they will send information through the mail.

The Ohio Attorney General's Office recommends that you do not send money via wire transfer or prepaid card in response to an unexpected phone call.

These are preferred payment methods of scammers because they are difficult to trace or recover once payment is provided.

Individuals who have received these calls are encouraged to report them to the Ohio Attorney General's office at 1-800-282-0515 or https://ohioprotects.org.