Increase in Scam Attempts Reported

LIBERTY, July 17, 2015 - It appears that each day produces new “scam” attempts by individuals that are trying to cheat honest people out of their money by new and various types of scam’s. Liberty County Sheriff Deputy Shandalynn Rhame has taken two citizen complaints within a two day period and each one was a different type scam but with the same intent of taking money from people under false representations. There is also a third type of scam being circulated in the Liberty County area that citizens should be aware of as these same efforts are apparently being used on areas outside our immediate community. The public needs to be reminded, once again, to be suspicious and reminded that legitimate business operations do not function in this manner and that NO personal information or money should be sent to anyone based upon a phone call from some unknown caller.

Deputy Rhame reports that her first complaint was from a lady who had been called by a man who spoke with a foreign dialect and who was very hard to understand. This unknown caller told the potential victim that she owed the Office of Internal Revenue $4,000 in back taxes. She was instructed to go to a bank in Kingwood and deposit the money in that bank and into a particular account number.

Fortunately, this potential victim was alert and did not fall for the scam but she did go to the Kingwood Bank and made a report and provided them with the account number of which she was given. The bank is now in the process of conducting their own investigation in an effort to determine who opened that particular account.
This is not the first IRS scam report the Sheriff’s Office has received as it appears this particular scam has been used numerous times on local citizens in months past. However, Deputy Rhame is asking that citizens be reminded of not only this type scam but others as well.

The second type of scam was reported to Deputy Rhame by a citizen who said she received a phone call from someone who identified themselves as “Mary Smith” with the “Publishers Clearing House” at phone number 1-876-584-1003. The caller told the potential victim she had won a very large amount of money but to collect it she would have to wire $300. to a particular address. Once again, this citizen was alert and knowledgeable enough to see this “scam” for what it was and immediately came to the Sheriff’s Office to report the call.

Acting on the citizen’s information, Deputy Rhame called the 1-800 number and a man who gave his name as “Wayne Johnson” answered that number. Deputy Rhame identified herself as a Deputy Sheriff and the man told her that he was with the FBI. When Deputy Rhame pressed the man for some answers and information, he hung up the telephone. Deputy Rhame then called the Beaumont office of the FBI and reported this event to them. The FBI, of course, advised Dep. Rhame that they had no Agent by that name on file. Additional follow up is being conducted on this scam call.

A third scam that appears to be showing its ugly head now is where another subject with a foreign dialect and very difficult to understand is calling citizens on their cell phones and representing a computer company who needs to check their computer of any virus. In the process, the scam caller will ask for a person’s e-mail address and the purpose, of course, is to tap into the victims computer and capture banking and medical information mostly for the purpose of not only immediate theft of a person’s money but for long term identity theft.

As Deputy Rhame so correctly points out, these scam callers will change their version of the scams, change the call back telephone numbers on a daily basis as well as their assumed names. However, what they do not change is their continued efforts to steal a victim’s money and bank information through lies, deceit and misrepresentations. It is clear that with the growing technology comes the growing effort’s for scam artist to dream up new and innovative ways to relieve the public of their money through intimidation, threats, fear and/or the promise of “something for nothing” by way of “winning” a tempting and large amount of money.

Past efforts to track down these scam callers have found that many of the telephone calls are coming from “the Islands” and are not only out of state but out of country as well and are cleverly hidden behind several layers of phone numbers and email addresses to hide their actual area of origin.

Liberty County Sheriff Bobby Rader encourages anyone who may feel they have been a victim of these type scams or an attempt was made to victimize anyone, to report that scam effort to the Sheriff’s Office in person or by phone at (936) 336-4500. The Sheriff also recommends the best method of discouraging these scam artist is to simply hang up the telephone as soon as a person realizes the caller is making an attempt to scam them.

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