KINGWOOD, W.Va. (WBOY) — Multiple different types of phone scam reports have been made in Preston County.
In a Facebook post on Friday, the Preston County Sheriff’s Department warned of scams claiming to be from the IRS, Publishers Clearinghouse, Mega Millions and Social Security or claiming to be the victim’s family member or a member of law enforcement.
The post said that the scams are becoming more frequent and provided the following descriptions of recent scams that residents should be on the lookout for.
The caller, pretending to be from the IRS, tells the person they owe back taxes, and to keep from getting arrested, must go to a local Walmart (or similar store) and get iTunes or other gift cards to pay fees. The IRS would never contact you by phone, nor would they ask you to pay back taxes this way.
The caller tells the victim they have won millions of dollars, along with other items such as a house or a new car. They will tell them that before they can be presented with a check, they must send a certain amount to cover “fees and taxes”. They try to push the victim to make a quick decision by telling them the news media and Publishers Clearinghouse cannot come to your home until the fees are paid. You have to enter their sweepstakes to win.
This scam involves a victim receiving a phone call telling them they won the MegaMillions lottery. However, the only real way to win the lottery is to buy a ticket. Also, the scammer will ask the victim to help cover the cost of fees associated with the win by purchasing gift cards, which is not legitimate.
An elderly person will receive a call, and the person on the other line will say they are their grandson or granddaughter, to which the victim will say a grandchild’s name and the scammer will say that is who they are. They tell the victim they are in jail and need money sent to be released. They pressure the victim to act quickly to keep them from notifying other members of their family.
The victim receives a call from an individual claiming to be from Social Security, and that their Social Security Number has been accessed. They tell the victim their credit has been compromised, and that they need to verify their personal information (including birthdate, bank account numbers and their Social Security Number), so they can issue a “new” Social Security Number. As with the IRS, Social Security would never contact you by phone to notify you of any issues. NEVER give out personal information, especially anything that a scammer can use to access your bank accounts and use your identity.
Jury Duty Scam
The latest scam that has been reported is that Lt. Sinclair from the Preston County Sheriff’s Office is calling to discuss missing jury duty. The person threatens to arrest the victim if they don’t pay $1,000 for missing. There is no Lt. Sinclair that works for the Preston County Sheriff’s Office. Earlier this year the state attorney general warned that a similar scam was happening in multiple counties across West Virginia.
Any possible scams should be reported to the West Virginia Attorney General at 800-368-8808. In the past six months, the Morgantown Police Department and FBI in Pittsburgh issued warnings about scam callers using their phone numbers.