SHERIFF'S CORNER: A review of common scams



Last week, I had a conversation with a local resident who asked that I repost my past article on internet and phone scams. This was due to an increase of scam calls that she had received recently. As mentioned later in this article, you can always dial 2-1-1 for any possible scams that you want to report.

Scammers nowadays are finding more and more ways to get your personal information or clean out your bank accounts. They take advantage of your good nature or the vulnerability of senior citizens.

What is surprising is that in most of these cases, they go unreported, for fear of embarrassment by the person who was taken advantage of. Even if you do report it on the local level, it is almost impossible to prosecute, because the scammers are located overseas or in another state.

Although some think this could not happen to them, you would be surprised on how many people fall victim to these scams on a daily basis.

In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I wanted to cover some of the most common scams out there.


These are very popular during the tax season but can pop up any time of the year. The caller will first tell you that you owe delinquent taxes. Then the caller will tell you that if do not pay them immediately, a warrant will be put out for your arrest, or your tax return will be held until they are paid.

The IRS will never contact you by phone for any type of delinquent taxes. It always comes in the form of snail mail, and then later by certified snail mail.


The caller will tell you they are from a computer manufacturer or online service provider and they have identified a problem with your computer. The caller will then walk through some troubleshooting exercises in hopes to fix the problem.

What the caller is actually doing is attempting to hijack your system or install malware that will obtain your banking and personal information. A computer manufacturer will not contact you first if you have technical problems. You have to call them — which is always very trying to begin with.


Whether it’s Christmas or New Year's Day, we all get some kind of electronic greeting card in either our email inbox, or on Facebook Messenger, that seem to be coming from a friend. As some may feel this is cute, it only sets up someone to opening an actual scam, malware or virus.

If you open such an email and click on the card, you usually end up with malicious software that is being downloaded and installed on your computer, smartphone or tablet. I would suggest never clicking on a link when it comes in this form because it only takes one time for it to be a computer disaster.


This usually happens after a local or natural disaster. The caller claims to be getting donations for a nonprofit, recovery effort, military or police charity.

As most people want to give aid after a tragedy or to help with a charitable cause, make sure you do the calling. You open yourself up to scammers when they call you first.


A new email scam involves the sender claiming to have webcam footage of people watching porn, or some other private moment, with threats to release the info unless a certain amount of money is paid.

Luckily, the whole thing is a scam and no video or photos have actually been recorded or downloaded. It does make you blush when you read it.


Have you ever heard the phrase "If it's too good to be true?" Well, the fact is ... it always is.

You never will randomly win any prize or money, unless you entered some contest and you know about it. These will usually result with the caller telling you that you have won something like $20,000, but you need to pay a tax, shipping or processing fee of $300 to have your winnings released.

You never have to pay money to get money.


This scam works when the caller claims to be a family member who needs either bail money, or they are stranded somewhere in another state.

How to verify that this is actually the truth? I would suggest a few things:

  • Ask them a personal question that only that person would know;
  • Call a family member to verify the whereabouts of the caller; or
  • Hang up and call the person's cellphone to verify.

This scam would have never worked for me since my grandmother would have said "I'll see ya when you get out!"


The caller claims to be from the bank and states that there has been some potential fraud on your account. As the call goes on, they will request account numbers, passwords or PINs to verify they have the correct information.

Do not give them out. This is information that they should already have.

Now, I will tell you I have received calls and emails from my credit card company when they have questioned potential fraud charges, but they never ask you for any of this information.


This is when the caller is offering to sell you an extended auto warranty, confirm health insurance information, or some sort of debt consolidation loan. It is best to never purchase anything over the phone unless YOU initiated the call.


People are often looking for love on the internet which can be a modern day way of finding the man of your dreams, or opening you up to one of the biggest scams.

I guess it's possible to find love online, but use caution. Otherwise, you could wind up in a digital relationship with a con artist who wants to steal your money.

These losers portray to be "Prince Charming," praying on the emotions of lonely people. They will establish a bond which appears to be genuine, but will later down the road ask for help, usually in the way of money.

I would say if they are broke, they ain't someone you want to be with, or they are just looking for money and not love.


Caller ID spoofing is the process of changing the caller ID to any number other than the calling number. When a phone receives a call, the caller ID is transmitted between the first and second ring of the phone. ... It is possible, during this part of the call, to transmit the caller ID they want instead of the true number.

This means it will show up as a local number and in some cases a local government agency. Technology is such that they can make you believe it is coming from a local number, which it is not.


A newly established service that is coming to Lake County residents is the Cybercrime Support Network. This is a service that you can report being a victim of fraud, whether it is was online or over the phone.

As it is next to impossible to track down these scammers due to the fact that they are located far away, or in different countries, this will provide a venue to help combat the issue. By simply dialing 2-1-1, this will transfer you to the service.

Another option is to report them to the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-382-4357. The FTC is the primary agency that takes phone scam complaints.

A few things to remember:

  • The IRS or other government agency will NEVER contact you by phone for personal or banking information.
  • If you think it's a scam, it is.
  • "Gift cards" are to be used for giving as gifts, not to pay taxes, bond money or any other processing fees.
  • Don't blindly open links for gifts cards in an email or on Facebook Messenger.
  • Try to avoid "wiring" money whenever possible.
  • When in doubt, contact the sheriff.

— This information is provided to you for clarification on specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. Topics covered are for educational and informational purposes only. As needed, excerpts from other articles are used for reference and/or content. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you may always email me your questions to