Phone & Technology Scams: An Increasing Problem In Wicomico Cty - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Phone & Technology Scams: An Increasing Problem In Wicomico Cty

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SALISBURY, Md. - For most of us, it's common sense to not give out personal information to a stranger over the phone. However, if the caller claims a loved one is at risk, or that you have won a grand prize, you may not think twice.

According to the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office, a local couple in Salisbury became victims to this increasing problem of phone scams just last week. They received a phone call, from what they thought was a Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, that they won $800,000 and a brand new Mercedes, and in order to claim their prize, all they had to do was pay a small fee. After a series of follow-up phone calls, the couple realized they had been scammed about $3,500.

"They use a legitimate title like Publishers Clearing House that everyone's familiar with, so the victims think they must be legitimate," says Lieutenant Tim Robinson with the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office. "The victims think, I've won $800,000, all I have to do is pay a small fee and I'm home free, but it's a scam."

Robinson says that if it were a real prize, people would not be asked to pay a claimant fee.

"If it's legitimate they will either send something in writing or they will visit you in person and not ask you to send money."

Robinson says this problem is more common than people realize, and that the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office receives these types of complaints at least once a week.

"They're praying on people's good natured ness or they're willing to not believe something is a scam."

Even worse, these scams are not always just over the phone. They can come through your personal e-mail, or even when you're selling something on Craig's list. The buyer may tell the victim they will "over pay" them with a check, and request the victim to cash it and send some of the money back.

"Then a few days later this check turns out to be counterfeit," says Robinson.

Earlier this month, Salisbury police handled two cases in which a caller threatened that a loved one was in danger and demanded money.

"What they're trying to do is get the victim to be in a panic, to not think things through and just go ahead and wire this money," says Captain Scott Kolb with the Salisbury Police Department.

No matter what the caller is saying, authorities recommend keeping all personal information guarded.

"Don't give out social security numbers, don't give out credit card numbers, don't give out personal information that is not readily available about you," says Robinson. "Once they get that information they can cause all kind of financial mayhem in your account."

"If you think you're becoming a scam of this or a fraud, don't give out any personal information, try to get as much information from the caller as you can, and notify the police department because we want to know about it," says Kolb.

Both Robinson and Kolb say these cases are still under investigation, and if anyone has any information, to contact authorities immediately.

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