DASSEL, MN – Two scam phone call attempts were reported in Dassel Tuesday morning, reflecting a growing trend in the area recently.
One was a Lottery scam, in which the person is told to pay taxes or a fee up front, in order to receive millions of dollars.
“We always tell people to be cautious of anyone calling to give you a prize if you pay something up front,” Meeker County Sheriff Brian Cruze noted. “If you truly won a prize, especially a lottery or one worth millions, you are not going to get a phone call requiring you to pay a fee up front to get the prize.”
The other scam was a caller claiming to be an IRS agent, demanding payment for past-due taxes. Cruze noted that this scam often involves the caller threatening the person with arrest if they don’t make the payment.
“We have seen an increase in scam calls with the holiday season approaching,” Cruze noted.
Another scam that has cost some local residents thousands of dollars is one in which the caller claims to be a police officer, Cruze noted. The caller tells the person a relative is in jail, and the only way to get them out is to buy gift cards and give them the gift card’s Personal Identification Number (PIN).
“Law enforcement does not make calls on behalf of inmates to get bail money, nor do we accept gift cards for bail money,” Cruze stated. “There is nothing legitimate about this. If your relative is in jail, they will have the opportunity to call you themselves. If they are able to bail out of jail, they will make those arrangements themselves. We only accept cash or work through a bail bonds service, and all of that happens at the jail, not over the phone.”
Cruze noted that if anyone gets one of these calls and has some doubt of its legitimacy, they should hang up and call the relative themselves. The list of inmates in custody is public information, and many county jails list the inmate roster on their website. Citizens can also call the jail directly to verify if their relative is in custody.
“Because of all these scams, never give full name, date of birth, or account information to a caller of a call you did not initiate yourself,” Cruze noted. “If you ever question if someone is legitimate, get their company name and find a callback number on your own. Don’t use their callback number.”
The Meeker County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at (320) 693-5400. In an emergency, dial 911.