Highlands County, Florida -- It's not just the weather that's heating up during the past few weeks! The Highlands County Sheriff's Office has received numerous complaints from citizens regarding frauds of all sorts from tax refund and identity theft to check washing and fake IRS calls.
There have even been calls to residents trying to convince them of winning a large sum of money. Unfortunately, all of these are scams and the people behind them are created to relieve you of your identity and your cash.
The sheriff's office has offered some steps to recognize a scam to help residents avoid being a victim.
• First of all, if it's too good to be true, it IS too good to be true. You have NOT won a million dollars in a sweepstakes you did not enter. You have NOT been chosen by the computer and your recently deceased relative did NOT enter a contest on your behalf. In these situations, the target (that's you!) is required to send an amount of money in order to claim your prize. Of course if you send a check, the thief will have your bank account number. If you wire the money, it's gone for good. Gift cards, or green dot cards are also not traceable nor are they refundable. Please don't call for this scam.
• Second, if there's an element of secrecy to the deal, it's a scam. This offer is NOT a secret and it's NOT just for you, it's for anyone who will fall for it! If you owe the IRS money, it's no secret. They will come right out and tell you and they WILL expect your check, not a gift card or a green dot card. When approached by someone who expects you to keep a transaction confidential, TELL SOMEONE!
• Third, if the scammer expresses urgency in your response, it's a fake. Take your time to research any offer you receive. Be sure to NOT give out personal information over the phone such as your bank account, credit card or Social Security Number unless YOU initiated the call in the first place. If there is a legitimate deal on the table, the seller will appreciate you taking the time to do research on the situation and probably will encourage you to do so.
Many of these scams and frauds originate outside the United States or are committed by a large group of individuals who operate over several jurisdictions. If you have questions about possible fraud, please call the Highlands County Sheriff's Office at 863-402-7200 and speak to a deputy or crime prevention specialist before becoming a victim. If you believe you already have become a victim, please call for a law enforcement officer to come out and take a report.
Highlands County Sheriff's Office