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Fraud Scheme Reminder

May 7, 2016

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department would like to remind the public to be very skeptical of unsolicited telephone calls from deceptive businesses, banking institutions, foreign countries, or government agencies where monetary promises or threats are implied or made directly. These scammers almost always request money to be paid up front for illegitimate services, or threaten arrest, eviction, or property seizure if their demands are not met.

A notable and common scheme involves the caller who claims to be a member of law enforcement, or an employee of the court system. The victim is told he or she has a warrant for failing to appear for jury duty. The caller demands payment for the warrant via credit card information, or a Green Dot Opens in New Window card. The suspect typically remains on the phone with the victim while he or she travels to the store to obtain the Green Dot card.

The suspect further instructs the victim not to tell anyone who they are talking with. After obtaining the serial numbers to the Green Dot cards, the money deposited to the card is immediately removed by the suspect.

Riverside County Superior Court or Sheriff’s Department employees will never contact the public and ask for financial information or payment in lieu of attending court proceedings, or fees for failure to appear for jury duty.

Fake Check Scams

The scammer offers to buy an item but uses a counterfeit check. Once the check is delivered, the check scammer claims they mistakenly overpaid the agreed-upon amount. The scammer then simply requests the recipient/victim cash or deposit the check and return the difference or overpayment via a money order or cash. When the check is processed, the victim receives a call or email from the bank, informing the victim the check was counterfeit causing the victim’s account to become overdrawn.

Tips to Avoid Fake Check Scams

  • Confirm the check before you withdraw cash. A check can take several days to clear, and, until then, you are responsible for any funds withdrawn against your bank account. To make sure the check cleared, call your bank.

  • Be wary of checks received from unknown individuals. When selling to someone you don't know, it is safer to accept PayPal, cash or credit card payments.

  • Do not accept overpayments. When selling on Craigslist or similar sites, do not accept more than the sales price, no matter what convincing story the buyer tells you.

  • Check your online bank statements frequently. Do not wait for monthly statements. If you see something you do not recognize, call your financial institution immediately.

Online Sales Protection

Here are tips you can do to ensure a safe transaction when buying or selling items online:

  • Trust your instincts.

  • Don't go alone.

  • Insist to meet at a public place

  • Do not meet in a secluded area.

  • Do not invite strangers into your home, and do not go to theirs.

  • Be cautious when buying/selling high value items.

  • Perform the transaction during daylight hours.

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it normally is.

  • Tell a friend or family member about your intentions.

  • Take your cell phone with you.

Protecting Your Mail

Here are tips you can do to protect your mail from thieves:

  • Use the letter slots inside your Post office for your mail, or hand deliver to a letter carrier.

  • Pick up your mail promptly after delivery. Do not leave it in your mailbox overnight. If you are expecting checks, credit cards, or other negotiable items, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.

  • If you do not receive a check or other valuable mail you are expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.

  • If you change your address, immediately notify your Post office and anyone with whom you do business via the mail.

  • Do not send cash in the mail.

  • Tell your Post office when you will be out of town, so they can hold your mail until you return.

  • Report all suspected mail theft to a Postal Inspector.

  • Consider starting a neighborhood watch program. By exchanging work and vacation schedules with trusted friends and neighbors, you can watch each other’s mailboxes (as well as homes).

  • Consult with your local Postmaster for the most up-to-date regulations on mailboxes, including the availability of locked centralized or curb side mailboxes.

  • If you see suspicious activity, or suspect theft, or if you believe your mail was stolen, call the police immediately, then call the Postal Inspector at (877)-876-2455 (press 3).

Fraud Prevention Tips

For more information about fraud prevention, please review the following links:

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