Victims lose hundreds of thousands of dollars to new phone scam, sheriff’s office says
SPOKANE CO., Wash. — Spokane County Sheriff’s Office is warning of a new phone scam that has cost victims thousands of dollars.
Reports suggest the scam involves fraudulent companies claiming they accidentally sent large sums of money and need to be refunded.
The Sheriff’s Office says, most importantly, to make sure you verify the identity of the employee and business that contacts you. If a company reaches out and says you owe them money, take the time to find the company’s official phone number and call them up to make sure.
According to authorities, a woman reported that she was called by an “Austin Parker” from (323) 366-9465, who claimed he worked for a company called “360 Total Security.” The scammer then told her that her anti-virus software was expiring, and that she could switch over to “360 Total” software and earn a rebate of $117.
The scammer called her back and claimed that he accidentally sent her $177,000 and that she needed to refund him money with a cashier’s check sent via UPS. Authorities say she did, and then was requested to send another check totaling $79,670 via FedEx.
The victim’s bank is currently conducting a fraud investigation, but the Sheriff’s Office says it is likely that this woman has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars for good.
Another victim was emailed by a “Jeremy Jones,” phone number (712) 372-5817, who claimed she needed to renew a service agreement on her computer. She was then contacted again, saying she sent them too much money, and they refunded $14,000 back into her account.
Then the victim was asked to send $10,000 to “Alex,” phone number (309) 324-2639, via FedEx.
When the victim learned she was scammed, she contacted the Attorney General’s Office, who directed her to contact her bank. The bank told her it was too late, and the funds were gone.
The Sheriff’s Office warns that these scams are devastating and hard, if not impossible, to trace. This is because criminals can use untraceable and disposable phones, electronic transfers and prepaid credit cards.
If you are contacted by a company saying you owe them money, be sure to take their information down and independently confirm it.
You can report telephone scams, counterfeit checks and phishing scams to the Federal Trade Commission, fake checks to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and contact your own bank to stop automatic withdrawals.