Fraud and Scam Crimes

Methamphetamine – Crystal meth, a drug known for its addictive strong hold on people, has become a common denominator in many thefts & frauds. It is still a major problem in the community and related to numerous crimes of opportunity committed in the area.

Identity Theft- has increased substantially and is the #1 fastest growing financial crime in the country. Identity thieves damage others credit, for their personal gain.

Check Fraud- currently accounts for millions of losses in Kootenai County & Spokane County.  Many of the checks passed are counterfeit and use the victims account numbers printed on the suspect’s checks. Thieves often use false identification to match the stolen or counterfeit checks they pass. Others simply do not consider the consequences and pass NSF checks to persons or businesses; regardless of the evidence leading investigators to directly link the check fraud back to them.

Shoplifting Theft- “Organized Retail Theft” is a ring of thieves working as a team for the common goal of stealing merchandise. The ring works together using many different techniques such as distraction, trickery and/or the use of “booster bags” to avoid theft detection when exiting a store. A booster bag is an aluminum-lined bag which blocks the signal produced by the detection device.

Counterfeit Bills- counterfeiting currency has never been as easy as it is now, with the use of modern computers & printers available to the common household. The Post Falls Police Department obtains counterfeit bills on a regular basis. The bogus bills are forwarded to the Spokane office of the Secret Service where they track & investigate counterfeiting cases.

Phishing Scams- Major internet sites and financial institution names have been used to con people into providing their personal information. Companies such as; Citibank, Pay Pal, E-bay, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, America Online & even the IRS have had their web sites duplicated to appear as if you are being contacted by them, but instead a con is trying to obtain your personal information. They may want to verify account information. These legitimate corporations generally will never ask persons to verify or re-register their account.

Nigerian e-mail scam- This has been around now for several years now. In different variations of the scam, the victims are sent an e-mail, letter or fax requesting help to transfer funds out of Nigeria, or some other foreign place. The sender promises to pay the victim a large sum of money for their assistance.

Auction Fraud- a seller posts an item for sale on E-bay, Yahoo, or other auction site and after receiving the funds, simply does not send the merchandise. The internet auction sites are truly a buyer beware situation. Investigating & prosecuting suspects involved in auction fraud is often too difficult and time consuming for many police agency’s to pursue.

Lottery Scams- “You’ve won a prize!”, you may receive a phone call, letter or e-mail claiming you have won a major lottery prize. You may be asked for your Social Security number, credit card, or mothers maiden name to verify your identity and help process your winnings, or you may be asked to send money required to process the winnings, or pay taxes in advance. Don’t provide any personal information or send any money, this is a scam.

Pay In Advance scam- You have an item for sale in the local newspaper, nickels worth or internet site. A person contacts you and offers your full sale price, but then explains he will need you to ship the item to a distant destination which requires substantial shipping fee’s. The buyer then explains that he will send you the added shipping costs in the money order or check and you simply forward the extra money to that person whom will be making the shipping arrangements. The seller quickly receives a money order or check in the mail, usually sent by Fed-Ex overnight. The seller cashes the realistic looking money order or check and forwards the excess money to the seller and/or shipper. The seller then is notified by the bank that the funds did not clear and the check or money order was a counterfeit. By this time it’s often too late and the money has been sent to the scam Artist. This is a common situation seen multiple times by local Police Departments all over our area. The victims have been taken for thousands in losses.

International Phone Call Scam- You receive an e-mail or letter notifying you that your account has been charged for on-line purchases which you know you have not made. You are given a phone number in which to dispute any un-authorized charges that have been reportedly made. Your phone call then goes to a foreign country and after listening to a long recorded message, or having been placed on hold for a lengthy period of time, you eventually get it resolved. However, when you receive your phone bill you find an international rate of billing has been added to your phone bill at $10.00 per minute.

Charity Solicitation- people calling for donations on behalf of the Firefighters, Police fund, Hurricane Katrina relief, American Cancer Society, etc. some are legitimate, but many crooks take advantage of persons whom believe they are donating to charitable causes. Make sure the charity is legitimate before donating to anyone.

Jury Duty Scam- A person identifies himself as an officer of the court and advises you that you have failed to appear for “Jury Duty”. You counter that you were unaware, you never received a notice, you would never intentionally try to avoid “Jury Duty”. The phony court officer asked that you provide verification of your name, birthdate, social security number and maybe even a credit card to clear this matter up. Some have been warned that an arrest warrant may be issued for their failing to appear. Often the normally cautious victims have been caught off guard by this official sounding con, and willingly provide the information needed to clear themselves.

For more information about these crimes, please contact our Community Services Administrator.

Comments are closed.