With a rise in cases of scams, local law enforcement agencies are working to help Warrick County residents recover.
Imagine getting a phone call where the phone number looks familiar, but isn't saved in your contacts. So you answer it. The person on the other line tells you they're from the IRS and they need to verify your identity.
Sometimes, it's just enough. Warrick County Sheriff Mike Wilder said this has been a more and more common occurrence that has resulted in stolen identities and fraudulent charges.
Wilder said Warrick County residents were affected by a wide variety of scams in 2018 including a popular scam where a caller threatens the individual with jail time to get personal information or funds. He said in some instances, instead of directly asking for funds, the caller appears to have personal information on the person, but is missing one bit of the information. When that person corrects the caller, the caller ends the call, Wilder said.
However, Wilder said the most prominent scams seem to be tax
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scams and calls demanding payment after claiming the individual missed jury duty as well as a scam where a caller claims the individual won the Canadian lottery.
"If just two people fall for it they can make quite a bit of money," he said.
In scam and fraud cases reported to the Warrick County Sheriff's Office in October and November approximately $40,000 was sent to scammers online and through gift cards. Some were through phone scams, but Wilder said people were also affected by online purchases where an individual sends a check for more than the required cost of an item and requests the receiver to send back the overpaid funds, but the check later fails and the individual is out the returned funds.
While law enforcement officials are aware of the variety of scams that have been affecting individuals, Wilder said there is often little the agencies can do to resolve the issues. In some cases when the incidents can be traced to an individual in their jurisdiction an arrest can take place and charges can be filed, but when the person found to be at fault for the scam is out of state or out of the county, the agencies have little resources to battle for those out of their jurisdiction.
"The majority do not lead to an arrest" he said. "Most of the time the money goes out of the county."
However, Wilder said people who end up in situations of fraud do have options to initiate investigations and disputes with their banks. In those situations, the individual may file a police reports, but when the issue is taken up by the bank, the individual is no longer the claimant in the case.
Wilder said the question of whether the individual has the claim or if the bank is the claimant as well as the question of where the crime took place. While the authorities continue to discuss the proper procedure to prosecute the cases of scams and fraud, individuals can take steps to secure their funds and make sure their identity remains uncompromised.
Wilder said it's important to remember authorities in the sheriff's office or with the IRS will never give notice over the phone. He said a lot of individuals recognize something is wrong too late.
"If you don't think it feels right, hang up and get a second opinion," he said.
For information on recently reported scams and advice visit the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Information website at www.consumer.ftc.gov.