The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 18, 2013

EPD warns of scams

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Enid Police Department is warning residents, especially the elderly, to be wary of scams being perpetrated in the area.

Lt. Eric Holtzclaw said the department has received 28 reports of scams since February 2012, with the latest report made Wednesday to police.

The latest report was of a scam targeting an elderly woman, indicating she’d won a prize in a contest she’d never entered. However, to claim the prize of $450,000, the scammer told the woman she would need to buy Green Dot debit cards and provide the authentication numbers from the cards to ensure the grand prize would be secured for her. The money placed on the cards then is transferred to another account, without creating a paper trail, and the prizes never materialize, Holtzclaw said.

“Be very leery of someone asking you to buy a debit card so you can trade it for something you’ve won,” Holtzclaw said. “Anybody that’s asked to have someone buy or purchase a debit card for money should be a red flag, immediately.”

“What they’re trying to do is eliminate a paper trail. Once a payment is made, they ask for more.”

Holtzclaw said the caller uses strong “telemarketing skills,” and often is pushy in attempts to gain personal information that could be used in manipulating bank accounts or for identity theft.

He said the scammers appear to be targeting the elderly, but he warned “anyone could be a target.”

“Anyone that has been contacted by a scammer and fallen victim can make a police report concerning the incident,” Holtzclaw said.

Tips for preventing fraud include:

• Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address and business license number before you transact business. Some scammers give out false names, telephone numbers, addresses and business license numbers. Verify the accuracy of these items.

• Obtain and retain all offers in written form, but beware — not everything written down is true.

• Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question. “What guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?”

• Beware of solicitors asking you to send money, unless you know the person or business with whom you are dealing.

• Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law.

• If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local or federal law enforcement agencies.

• Be very careful about the kinds of people to whom you disclose personal information, such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth or Social Security numbers.

• Before you receive your next sales pitch, decide what your limits are — the kinds of financial information you will and won’t give out on the telephone.

• Banks will never contact you asking for account numbers.

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