Saturday, November 14, 2009

Email Scam Costs Victims Hundreds in Phone Charges

Police receive several reports each week of mail, telephone and Internet fraud, practices that cost residents thousands of dollars yearly. Many scams attempt to trick victims into wiring money to foreign countries to help friends or family members in need of large amounts of cash. Others promise large returns of cash for little effort and ultimately leave victims with little recourse to recoup their losses. Many schemes originate from West Africa, parts of Europe and Canada, and include false lottery winnings, elaborate work-at-home offers and complex monetary exchanges.

Some telltale signs that a transaction may be fraudulent include correspondence, including emails, that reflect poor grammar and spelling or any indication that the correspondence is coming from outside the United States.

In addition, any unsolicited communication that insists the victim keep the transaction confidential is likely fraudulent. Residents are urged to contact police if they have any doubt about a transaction. In the case of foreign contacts, residents can also contact authorities from the local jurisdiction or a U.S. consulate or embassy office to verify information.

Anyone who receives an unsolicited check or money order should confirm with their bank that the check is legitimate and the account has sufficient funds to cover the amount before issuing any refunds or passing along cash or merchandise.

Police warn residents to be wary of any unsolicited contact promising large returns for little work or large winnings. In addition, police advise that anyone who knowingly cashes a fraudulent check or does so without making a diligent effort to determine the legitimacy of the check could be held civilly or even criminally liable.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of fraud or who has received an unsolicited offer of money should call police.

A copy of the text from the most recent email fraud is included below.

*It's me, Jim. I really don't mean to inconvenience you with my email but am sorry, I made a little trip to UK, and I lost my wallet that contains my passport, cell phone and credit cards. I know this may sound odd, but it all happened very fast. I've been to the US embassy, they're willing to assist me fly without my passport, but I have to pay for my ticket and I'm out of cash. I can't have access to my bank without my credit card over here. I have contacted my bank, but they need more verification and time wasting as well for the past 24hours. Please, can you lend me some funds right now? I'll pay you, as soon as I get home. I need to get on the next available flight home.

Please reply as soon as you get this message, so that I can forward you my details to send funds, you can drop a message with the receptionist via the hotel's desk phone if you can. The numbers are, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX.*

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