April 2, 2014
In short, scams are designed to gain trust and they prey upon this trust, taking advantage of community members. The Manhattan and Riley County area is fortunate that these cases are not at an epidemic level, however every once in a while the Riley County Police Department is made aware of a potential scam or two. Some of these scams have even created loss or identity theft and can often times be tough for law enforcement to solve.
Since no one wishes to become a victim of crime, RCPD offers the following tips to help protect yourself from these potential scams. RCPD would like to thank IC3.gov for providing a large portion of these tips. For more information or to report an internet crime visit the FBI's online complaint reporting site.
- Ensure a website is secure and reputable before providing your credit card number online. Don't trust a site just because it claims to be secure.
- If purchasing merchandise, ensure it is from a reputable source and promptly reconcile credit card statements to avoid unauthorized charges. Report unauthorized transactions to your bank or credit card company as soon as possible.
- Beware of providing credit card information when requested through unsolicited emails and never give your credit card number over the phone unless you make the call.
- Attempt to obtain a physical address, rather than a P.O. box or mail drop.
- Never throw away credit card or bank statements in usable form.
- Be aware of missed bills which could indicate your account has been taken over.
- Be cautious of scams requiring you to provide your personal information.
- If the lottery winnings appear too good to be true, they probably are. Be leery if you do not remember entering a lottery or contest.
- Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your own country.
- Beware of lotteries that charge a fee prior to delivery of your prize or send you a check for more than the amount you are told that you have won. Also, be wary of demands to send additional money to be eligible for future winnings. Keep in mind that it is a violation of federal law to play a foreign lottery via mail or phone.
- Be cautious when renting from someone you have not met. Rental scams are often completed through the use of only email correspondences.
- If it doesn't feel right, question it. If you receive a phone call asking for information make sure to do independent research for a call back number to ensure you are speaking with whom you think you are.
There are several scams that have been found in the Manhattan and Riley County area over the past several years and a summary of a handful of them have been included below. These do not include every possible potential scam, so it is important to pay attention to red flags, not allow yourself to become rushed, and take steps to not fall victim. If you feel that a crime has been committed against you, please contact the Riley County Police Department or your local law enforcement agency. We also encourage you to file a complaint with IC3.gov if the situation falls under their reporting guidelines.
The Rental Scam: This scam consists of an email correspondence in which an otherwise unknown renter receives an application from a potential tenant. The renter will approve the application and say something along the lines of "My wife and I have gone through your application and have found it satisfactory...My family would love you to secure the property so you can have an edge over other applicant." These types of statements are meant to create a sense of urgency which can cause the victim to make rash decisions without questioning the red flags they may otherwise notice. This scam generally goes on to say something like "I will want to know what you can come up with now either the refundable security deposit or the first month rent so that you can secure it now and take it of market. As soon as the payment has been confirmed by my family, l will go ahead and commence on how the houses keys/Documents will be delivered to you via FedEx on next day delivery service and it will be delivered to the address you have to provide in your application form." The scam continues by the victim sending funds (for a house that is not available to rent) and never actually receiving anything for it.
To help avoid the Rental Scam: Meet your future landlord in person and never send funds in the fashion mentioned above. The application in this scam is often done through email and does not appear professional. It also does not include a contract or a renter’s agreement. Make sure the home or apartment you are hoping to rent is actually a rental and not a residentially owned home.
The Foreign Jail Scam: This scam has been around for several years and consists of a consulate member or foreign official calling the victim by phone and informing them that a family member has been placed in jail or police custody. The scammer mentions that the imprisoned family member wishes to keep the situation secret, as being jailed is embarrassing to them. Next the victim is asked to send money in order for the family member to post bond or be released from custody.
To help avoid the Foreign Jail Scam: Obtain a call back number and name of whom you should be contacting. Immediately contact the family member who is said to be in custody. Asking questions when red flags present themselves is key. One of these red flags would be a family member traveling outside of the country without you prior knowledge of it.
The Home Mortgage Scam: This scam has the potential of creating significant loss for a home owner and preys upon our desire to maintain good credit and not fall behind on bills. This scam works by tricking the victim into sending "late mortgage payments" to the scammer. It often uses letterhead which appears to be from a reputable mortgage company and generally states that payments have not been received and that the victim owes for several past months.
To help avoid the Home Mortgage Scam: Contact your mortgage company immediately by independently researching their contact phone number. Do not use phone numbers supplied by the potential scammer. Pay attention to grammar errors and misspelled words in documents sent to you via email or postal mail. Keep record and check your bank statements often to assure yourself that you have not missed payments.
The attached items are supplied by the FBI through IC3.gov. The following are a list of quick links to IC3.gov services and the Riley County Police Department would like to thank the FBI as well as the National White Collar Crime Center for their support in preventing crime in our area and nationwide.
More information on potential scams can be found online by visiting the Federal Trade Commission.