I’m writing to discuss being vigilant against scammers—such as someone who calls or e-mails to advise that your Amazon account has been hacked. your identity has been stolen, or there’s a warrant for your arrest.
The criminals who tell you the “only” way to solve these issues is to buy gift cards. That should raise a red flag to you because that’s often how these scammers operate.
Have you or anyone you know experienced something similar?
Recently, my deputies were called to a home in West Volusia where a man in his 60s. He had received an e-mail showing a picture of an Amazon receipt, indicating he bought a nearly $6,000 flat-screen TV and a streaming device for almost $400. He said he didn’t buy those items and when he called to address the issue, he was transferred to two different people. The second man told him to buy gift cards to block the hacking on his account. So he did—$600 worth. It seemed legit when the speaker provided the victim’s address, phone number, and name. It wasn’t.
Another case involved a female resident, also in her 60s called us. She had received a call from someone identifying himself as a courthouse processor and told her that her Social Security number had been flagged and she faced being arrested unless she paid him thousands in gift cards.
This brazen scammer told her she would be arrested by the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Volusia Sheriff’s Office unless she met his demands. He warned her not to tell anyone. He called her multiple times, directing her to buy the cards while he was on the phone with her. She complied and gave him the numbers for $11,000 worth of gift cards. Then she called us.
These are two very real, recent examples of people falling prey to criminals.
Let me remind you: Legitimate agencies don’t call you and DEMAND MONEY. Not the Volusia Sheriff’s Office, not the IRS, not the DEA, not the Department of Homeland Security. None of us.
Be vigilant: Scammers regularly call residents, often even using actual names of our Sheriff’s Office employees. It’s a scam and may involve the threat of a warrant.
Please share and spread the word, especially to those who tend to be the targets. These types of scams are called phishing: a cyber crime in which a target is contacted by e-mail, telephone, or text message by someone posing as a reputable source to trick people into revealing their personal information.
You can learn more by Googling “phishing” or go to myfloridalegal.com This is Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s website for timely information about phishing and other imposter scams to avoid.
If you believe you are a victim of fraud, call us at 386.248.1777 or 911 in an emergency. We’re here to help.
Stay safe and smart, Sheriff Mike Chitwood