We have celebrated the holidays and said our goodbyes to 2021. I’m very grateful for our beautiful county and the men and women of the Volusia Sheriff’s Office who are dedicated to protecting our community!
Now it’s time to start fresh and renew your plan to be smart about crime prevention, especially if someone tries to lure you into thinking you have to buy your way out of financial trouble or risk. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Recently, our deputies were called to investigate after a West Volusia resident reported receiving a call from someone claiming to be from Amazon account security. The caller told her someone was trying to access her Amazon account and she could safeguard her account by downloading two apps to her cell phone, purchase $1,500 in gift cards, and provide a copy of her driver’s license.
Unfortunately, our victim complied with the caller. She drove to CVS and Walmart and purchased $1,500 in gift cards, with the caller still on the phone. She provided the card numbers to the caller and by now, the damage was done.
Realizing it was a scam, our victim called her bank to report the incident. All the bank could do was tell her to call us, which she did, and we have begun a criminal investigation.
Sadly, this resident has now become a victim of identity theft and has lost hundreds of dollars in this scam.
Please, listen to your gut: If someone who sounds suspicious or you don’t know calls you and tells you to pay money—especially by purchasing gift cards—it’s a scam. Don’t fall for it!
The criminal who calls or contacts you online may spin any variety of stories that might sound legitimate: Your account is at risk. Or you’re in trouble and face arrest—they might even say they represent a local law enforcement agency. Or you won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. Or your family member is in jail or injured and needs you to bail them out.
These are bad guys preying on vulnerable consumers. The common denominator is they ask, demand, or coerce you into sending money to remedy the problem—often using gift cards.
Folks, these aren’t new scams. Though, people still fall for it, regrettably.
Please, if you receive a call like this and agree to provide cash, call 911 immediately. Get a law enforcement officer to your house and let them sort through the mess for you.
Don’t rush to your bank until you report it.
If someone calls and says they are from the IRS, a police department, or the Volusia Sheriff’s Office and tells you that you’d better pay up or you’ll be arrested, nobody—not law enforcement, not Homeland Security, not the IRS, not Florida Power & Light—no legitimate entity wants you to pay in gift cards. That’s not how government works.
If you know someone who might be susceptible to this kind of crime, please talk with them. Remind them that anytime someone calls demanding money —especially if the caller makes threats or uses pressure tactics—it’s very likely a scam and can cost victims thousands of dollars.
Learn More: You can learn more about protecting yourself against scams with Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s Scams At A Glance—an outreach program with information about common and emerging scams. You can avoid becoming a fraud victim, but you must know what to look for.
As a reminder, here are signs of common scams:
• Unsolicited calls or e-mails;
• High-pressure tactics or too-good-to-be-true offers;
• Threats of loss if immediate action is not taken; and
• Requests for immediate payment by wire transfer, credit, prepaid debit, or gift cards.
Resources: To view recent Consumer Alerts, visit MyFloridaLegal.com/Con sumerAlert To report fraud or file a complaint, visit MyFloridaLegal.com or call 866.9NO.SCAM or 866.966.7226.
If you become a fraud victim, call the Sheriff’s Office at 386.248.1777, but remember: You don’t have to be a victim if you hang up on scammers!
Let’s make this a smart, safe 2022,
Sheriff Mike Chitwood