WRIGHT COUNTY, MN – The Wright County Sheriff’s Office has issued a scam warning to retailers throughout the county, stating in a press release that fraud, scams, and identity theft continues to be a growing problem, evident by reports being filed in the county and surrounding communities.
Many people reporting scams to the sheriff’s office have either fallen victim to or have been targeted by scammers. Many other victims do not report becoming a victim of a scam because they may be embarrassed that they fell for a scam in the first place.
Suspects committing these crimes are many times not only outside of Wright County, but outside of the United States, making the investigation into these crimes extremely difficult. Suspects often use untraceable phone numbers and email addresses, and have become more and more creative in covering their tracks.
These scams have many commonalities. One of the most common ways a scammer requests to be paid is via gift cards because they are not easily traced and can be used anywhere, including online. These cards can vary between prepaid debit cards to cards for online merchants such as iTunes, Amazon, and Google. Many victims of scams will often be directed by the suspect to purchase several thousands of dollars worth of gift cards and then send the gift card numbers as payment. The use of gift cards is not just limited to scams but also the most common form of purchase by persons utilizing fraudulent credit cards. Many times suspects utilizing fraudulent or stolen credit cards will purchase large amounts of gift cards using several different cards until one is accepted.
The sheriff’s office is asking all retailers to remain aware of these criminal activities and to report any suspicious activity to the sheriff’s office or local police department. If retail employees notice someone purchasing a large amount of gift cards, they may be dealing with a victim of a scam. Oftentimes, victims are members of the older population. Many of the victims do not realize they are victims until after they have made payment to the suspect and, by then, it is often too late to help them get their money back.
Members of the public should not be afraid to ask questions or call law enforcement if needed. All employees should be given this information and reminded they may be able to help a victim of a scam by simply asking them if their purchase of gift cards is being made willingly or directed by someone else. If an individual feels there may be a victim or a scam in a store and is not comfortable asking them these questions, he or she may call the sheriff’s office or local police department.
The sheriff’s office appreciates the public’s assistance regarding this very important matter.