Scam Tips From the Wenatchee PD Fraud Detective
"For every legitimate action there's a scammer who's making money off of it illegally"
Det. Kirk Drolet Wenatchee Police Department
The Wenatchee Police Department's fraud investigator spends his day trying to help people recover funds lost to scammers and track down criminals. Sadly, Detective Kirk Drolet says many times, the lost money can't be recovered so he wants people to be aware of the two main types of frauds scammers are trying to victimize you with.
The Computer; What You Should Be Wary Of
If you're on your computer and you get a pop up dialog box, something you didn't click on that shows up on your screen and indicates a warning. This message could claim your security software is out of date or your bank accounts have been accessed. This is messaging that will appear in a dialog box popping up on your computer. In that scenario, Drolet advises you to take your computer offline from the internet and deal directly with the account or merchant mentioned in the pop up box.
If the dialog box said, as an example, your Amazon account has been hacked, do not utilize that dialog box or any information in it to contact Amazon. Instead, contact Amazon directly and preferably by phone. Drolet stresses the importance of not using any phone number or information provided to you in the dialog box. Log off your computer, go to a different method to find contact information for Amazon or whatever merchant or vendor was mentioned in the dialog box and contact them directly.
The same steps and precautions to verify the information should be taken with any similar pop up message alerting you to take action to avoid a further loss. Another example might come in the form of a message from what appears to be your bank, claiming your account has been compromised. Drolet urges you to make a phone call directly to your local branch or stop by in person. They'll verify on their their secure system in the branch and be able to tell you if anything is going on with your account. Drolet notes every bank has a fraud department and "they would love to know that somebody's out there spoofing their customers".
Direct Messaging in a Text or Email; What You Should Be Wary Of
Drolet likes to think of a scammer reaching you on the phone as a kind of "direct marketing" It may be in the form of a phone call, text message, Instagram or Facebook message on your mobile device (cell phone) that says you've been hacked or click here for a security update. He points out the warning may look like an apple update. Drolet's advice in that scenario; get onto your computer and you go to apple.com and check for updates.
If you receive text messages or emails about charges to an account or problems with an account you don't have, don't call the number the scammer provided. If the scammer mentions an account you do business with, again, don't respond to the number or link provided. Instead contact the account servicer directly to determine if there is a problem.
Whether the scammer is reaching you through the computer, by text, email or phone call, the scammer is likely to try and scare you with threats your account is associated with criminal activity like trafficking or pornography.
Once you are in contact, Drolet says the scammers goal is to get you to not think rationally out of fear to get your money.
The final thought from Drolet "if it looks suspicious, is it worth it? How much of your life savings are you willing to give away when you could have taken an extra 10 minutes. I'm hoping you're willing to take those extra 10 minutes and be safe"
If somebody on the phone is telling you to go get a gift card, Apple iTunes, Google Play, or a steam card, hang up because it's a scam. These are forms of payment that scammers want you to use to transfer money
If you get directed to go put money into a cryptocurrency ATM, cryptocurrency scammers telling victims to go withdraw cash and feed it into these ATMs and a digital wallet the scammer has access to. The minute you put that money into that ATM and the scammer says put it into his wallet that money is gone and cannot be recovered.
"I have cases where people have literally sat at Bitcoin ATMs and pumped in 10s of 1000s of dollars. into these machines to help a scammer. The scammers are very very good at getting emotional, not thinking rationally" Drolet warns.