The Renton Police Department is warning people about a scam commonly known as the “Nigerian scam.”
There are several financial scams but most of the current schemes are re-packaged versions of the same old scams. Some of the common ones involve a lottery scenario or a sure-fire investment. However, new twists might be fronted offering employment, asking for money for medical bills, or other tempting deals, according to police officials.
Recently in Renton, scam artists offered an individual a large sum of money if they could prove their trustworthiness by first giving the suspects $50,000 of their own funds. The scam failed, because Renton police were called to the scene. The victim’s money was recovered, and police took two female suspects into custody. Two other suspects remain at large.
“Every year millions of dollars are lost by people throughout the United States in scams just like this,” said Renton Police Chief Kevin Milosevich. “This is an important reminder for everyone — if it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam.”
Here are a few recent scams to avoid, according to the Renton Police Department.
A letter is sent indicating that the victim is a grand prize winner of a large sum of money. There is a request for personal banking information or a request for payment by the victim for “taxes” or “surcharges.”
Money is requested upfront for what is guaranteed as a safe and secure investment with a high rate of return. Interest payments stop after first few initial payments.
Mystery shopper/employment offer scam
An e-mail or a letter is sent offering employment as a mystery shopper. Personal information is requested and the person is asked to wire-transfer a sum of money to an account. A check for the amount is provided. The check for the victim to deposit is counterfeit and by the time the check bounces the money has been wired.
The victim is persuaded to advance sums of money in the hope of realizing a significantly larger gain. Personal banking information is requested and instructions for wire transfers are provided.
Injury scam – usually targeting seniors
The victim gets a phone call regarding a family member allegedly involved in an accident or urgently in need of money. Money for medical bills is requested to be wired through Western Union to a specific location. The victim is asked to keep the information on the accident confidential. None of this is true and the elderly are scammed.
How to avoid a scam
Here are some ways that you can avoid being scammed, according to the Renton police.
Make a few personal rules for yourself, including:
- Check personal credit every six months to monitor activity.
- Use passwords on accounts rather than mother’s maiden name or social security numbers.
- Mail bills and checks from a post office rather than your unlocked home mailbox.
- Don’t reveal banking or personal information online or on the phone.
- Never rely on phoned reports about family. Call family members directly for verification.
- Don’t open bank accounts during employment process.