The West Virginia State Police are reminding local residents to be continually aware of scams, including those where a caller will use information available publicly on the internet to personalize a phone call and make the fraud more believable.
Cpl. V.J. Pyles with the Buckhannon detachment said two popular scams involve either asking for bail money or telling someone they have won a large monetary prize.
“The bail scam is happening once more,” Pyles said. “The caller advises that you have warrants and need to pay a bond by purchasing gift cards. The callers urge the victim not to contact anyone — family, law enforcement, etc.”
Instead of mailing the gift cards, the scammer may ask you to read the numbers over the phone.
“Once the money is obtained on gift cards, the victim is asked to give the numbers to the caller,” Pyles said. “Once this occurs, the money is usually gone and cannot in most cases be regained.”
Pyles said law enforcement will not contact you regarding bond payments, nor will they take money for bond. If you get a call like this, you should contact police.
“Law enforcement will not contact a person regarding the payment of bond in any case,” Pyles said. “The West Virginia State Police will not take payment for bond, only the court/bonding agency will do so.”
Do not send money over the phone, he stressed.
“The scammers are targeting older citizens and individuals whose information may be available online,” Pyles said. “Scammers are also advising that a family member is in jail in another state and they need bailed out. This scam has been successfully used multiple times with thousands of dollars lost by elderly individuals and others.”
Another scam involves telling someone they’ve won a large amount of money, but they first need to pay a smaller amount to claim the prize.
“The Publishers Clearing House scam is also making the rounds,” Pyles said. “Publishers Clearing House will not call winners, period. They are specifically targeting older people. Citizens are urged to contact law enforcement and not send money to anyone over the phone or mail money to these people.
“If you are asked to pay money to win money, you are being scammed.”