This week I want to share some lessons from the experiences of two families in Volusia County, both of which resulted in active criminal investigations by your Volusia Sheriff’s Office.
By the way, I’m not here to scare anyone needlessly. I am trying to educate everyone so you can spot red flag warnings and avoid falling victim to criminals preying on Internet users.
The first case involves a couple living on the west side of our county. They saw an ad for a 24-foot motor home appear in an app they were using on their phone. They e-mailed the seller that they wanted to purchase the vehicle.
She asked them to send their full names, address, phone numbers, and Social Security numbers to be forwarded to a shipping company and verify their identities. The victims were directed to transfer money and complete two separate wire transfers—one for warranty and shipping fees that would be returned at the time of delivery.
The couple were provided routing and account numbers to track the delivery. Un- fortunately, their motor home never arrived. Now the seller and shipping company can’t be reached. This couple is out thousands of dollars for a motor home they’re likely not going to receive.
In the second, even more heart-wrenching case, a Deltona resident has been struggling to pay for her husband’s very expensive chemotherapy medications to treat cancer. Unfortunately she became a victim of fraud after merely inquiring on the Internet about getting a loan to help pay for the meds.
After investigating a company’s website and leaving her phone number, she was contacted by someone claiming to represent the company and the person didn’t even identify himself. The victim was told she would be approved for a $5,000 loan but they needed access to her bank account, so she gave it to them.
A few days later, our victim was contacted by someone claiming to represent Cash App, a mobile payment service that lets users transfer money to each other using a mobile phone app. The unidentified caller told the victim her bank account had been compromised and it could be fixed—but they needed her bank account information.
The next day she woke up to find nearly $3,000 missing from her checking account. She immediately reported it to her bank and to the Sheriff’s Office to pursue criminal charges.
These are just two of the most recent very real fraud crimes we hear about happening every week to our residents, of all ages.
It’s so important to be on guard when someone asks for your financial or personal information because sadly, bad guys and gals are waiting to steal your hard-earned money.
Here are some important reminder red flags about common scams from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s website, myfloridalegal.com/scams-at-a-glance
It may be a scam if you receive:
• Unsolicited calls or emails;
• High-pressure tactics or offers that are too good to be true;
• Threats of loss if you don’t take immediate action and
• Requests for immediate payment by wire transfer, credit, prepaid debit, or especially GIFT CARDS.
Remember, never, ever give your financial information, especially your Social Security number, to anyone you don’t know. If you’re in doubt, ask a trusted family member or friend and do your best not to be intimidated by someone pushy who demands payment or personal information.
Myfloridalegal.com offers plenty of helpful consumer information including Consumer Alerts and Scams At A Glance.
Of course if you think you’re a victim of fraud, call our non-emergency phone number, 386.248.1777 or 911 in an emergency. We’re here to help.
Stay smart and stay safe,
Sheriff Mike Chitwood