'Tis the season for scams and fraud

YAVAPAI COUNTY -- The Yavapai County Sheriff's Office has handled several reports involving scams and fraud in recent weeks. Here are some details:

• YCSO deputies were called by a Wilhoit fraud victim who explained someone had used his debit card for two purchases from a Home Depot in California. The victim had been visiting California on a regularly and had used of his debit card at a Northern California restaurant. The waitress processed the transaction out of his sight and then returned the card. The victim did not notice anything unusual at the time, but the Sheriff's investigators believe that since the victim still had his debit card, someone likely "skimmed" (scanned) the information from the magnetic strip and created a duplicate.

It is always best to maintain constant contact with credit cards during transactions. It takes only seconds to scan a card into a special card reader and use the information later.

• "Grandma, I'm in jail and need bail money." This phone scam involves a caller, usually based in Canada, who tells the victim that a member of their family has been arrested and is asking for bond money. The caller will request money be wired to a certain location for release of their family member. Information for the scam may come from a social networking sites like Facebook. Seniors are often victims, since they have grandchildren. Police suggest sharing the nature of this scam with older family members and relatives and encourage them to verify any calls with those they know and trust.

• Deputies met with a Cottonwood woman about a "work at home" scam. She saw a classified ad in a newspaper placed by the "ABB Group." This company claimed to be a collection company for internet providers and offered jobs. The victim signed up and soon thereafter received two $2,200 checks. As instructed, she deposited the checks in her account, forwarded the money via Western Union to the United Kingdom and waited to collect a fee. A few days later, she was notified by her bank the checks were fraudulent and she had sustained the loss. The rule: "If it seems too good to be true, it is."

• Lastly, the "876" phone scam. Any unsolicited calls from this prefix, or a notification to call this prefix because you "won" a prize, is a scam. The 876 area code is assigned to the country of Jamaica and your call will likely result in a substantial toll charge from third party vendor on your phone bill. Screen these calls or block this prefix if that service is available.


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