In recent weeks, our staff has noticed an increase in the following scams:
Online Dating Scam- The scammer will quickly claim to have a deep emotional connection with their victim. They will avoid meeting in person or participating in a video chat. Often, the scammer will say they live abroad or are serving overseas on a military base. (In the cases we have personally witnessed, the scammer claims to be on a military base in Syria.) They will ask for online banking login information or customer account information in order to have funds automatically deposited. They will then instruct the customer to send money elsewhere or use the money to buy gift cards or phones.
Check Scams- The scammer will send a check to the customer for such things as moving expenses or paying bills. They will then ask the customer to send a specific dollar amount elsewhere, usually through electronic means such as Apple Pay.
Lottery/Prize Scams- The customer receives a check in the mail from a company claiming that the customer has won a prize. Often, the customer is told they can keep a certain portion of the money if they pay a small fee in return. In most cases, the customer didn’t enter a contest to begin with.
In all of these cases, the money is withdrawn by the customer from their account. The bank then receives a request to return the money because it has not been authorized to be withdrawn from the account in which it originated. The bank is required to return the funds. In the instances we have witnessed, thousands of dollars are lost and the customer is ultimately responsible for re-paying the loss.
DO NOT give out online login or account information to anyone.
DO NOT wire money to strangers.
If you accept payment by check, ask for a check drawn on a local bank and only accept the check for the exact amount of the transaction.
Free is free. If you are told you have won a prize or a contest, or are receiving a gift, you should not have to pay any fees or send any money to anyone.
If you think it seems like a scam, it probably is!