Lincoln, NE (December 23, 2020) On two separate occasions in the last two days, someone has contacted Lincoln residents on the telephone, identified themselves as a Lincoln police officer, and advised that the individuals needed to buy gift cards or bank cards (e.g., Green Dot debit cards) or a warrant would be issued for their arrest.
The scammer then directed the victims to mail the cards. In one case, a 27-year-old female victim reported a loss of $300. According to Police, it appears that the suspects are using publicly available information from traffic collision reports to target victims.
The Lincoln Police Department issued a statement, saying that it will never contact residents and demand they buy gift cards to avoid a warrant. Anyone who has doubt about a similar matter can call 402-441-6000, either to verify an officer’s identity, the validity of a warrant, or any call for service. That number can also be used to report a scam.
Police also providedd several ways to recognize scams, frauds, and deception (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-avoid-scam)
1) Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know, such as a government agency (e.g., the IRS or your local police department), church, or business. They use technology to change the phone number that appears on your caller ID, meaning the name and number you see might not be real.
2) Scammers say there is a problem or a prize. They may say you or your family member is in trouble with the IRS or the police, or that your loved one is in the hospital. They may say there’s a virus on your computer or cell phone. They may say there’s a problem or “error” on your bank account. They may also say that you’ve won a large amount of money (e.g., the lottery) or merchandise, but you have to pay a fee to obtain it.
3) Scammers pressure you to act immediately. Thieves want you to act before you have time to think or talk with a family member or speak with local law enforcement. If you’re on the phone, they might tell you not to hang up so you can’t check out their story. SLOW DOWN the conversation and your decision, and don’t be afraid to simply hang up if you feel pressured to act. Thieves might threaten to arrest you, sue you, take away your driver’s or business license, deport you, or terminate your employment. They might say your computer is about to be corrupted.
4) Scammers demand that you pay in a specific way. They often insist that you pay by sending money through a money transfer company or by putting money on a gift card and then giving them the number on the back over the phone. Some will send you a check (that will later turn out to be fake), tell you to deposit it, and then send them money.
Here are some ways to avoid a scam:
1) Don’t give out personal or financial information in response to a request you didn’t initiate or expect. Legitimate organizations won’t call, email, or text to ask for your personal information, like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers.
If you get an email or text message from a company you do business with and you think it’s real, it’s still best not to click on any links. Instead, contact them using a website you know is trustworthy. Or look up their phone number. Don’t call a number they gave you or the number from your caller ID.
2) Resist the pressure to act immediately. Anyone who pressures you to pay or give them your personal information is a scammer.
3) Know how scammers tell you to pay. Never pay someone who insists you pay with a gift card or by using a money transfer service. And never deposit a check and send money back to someone.
4) Stop and talk to someone you trust. Before you do anything else, tell someone—a friend, a family member, a neighbor—what happened. Talking about it could help you realize it’s a scam.
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