Paul A. Nikas, Chief of Police
15 Elm St.
Ipswich, MA 01938
For Immediate Release
Friday, Dec. 19, 2014
Contact: John Guilfoil
Ipswich Police Warn Residents about Aggressive Telephone Scams
Neither Police Nor the Government Will EVER Ask You For Payment Via Wire Transfer or Pre-Paid Debit Card
IPSWICH — Police Chief Paul A. Nikas and the Ipswich Police Department are issuing guidelines to alert the public about aggressive telephone scams meant to con people out of their hard-earned money.
“Scammers prey on the innocent, the elderly, and those with families,” Chief Nikas said. “During the holiday season, we we want to call extra attention to these scams and frauds while educating our residents on how to protect themselves and their money.”
How to Protect Yourself
• Never, EVER pay a stranger or someone claiming to be a government agent with a wire transfer, money order, or pre-paid debit card. Any money sent in this method will be lost forever, and it cannot be recovered.
• Do not give out your social security number, date of birth, or other personal information unless you are 100 percent sure who is on the other line
• Install modern anti-virus and anti-malware software on your computer, and ensure that the software is legitimate. A list of good free and paid antivirus titles can be found here.
• When in doubt, hang up and call the police department.
• Often, scammers spoof legitimate government phone numbers, so do not rely on your Caller ID as proof of legitimacy
• The IRS, FBI, Police Department, Sheriff’s Department, and Utility Companies will NEVER threaten to have you arrested over the phone.
The Grandparent Scam
Individuals behind these scams prey on seniors in an attempt to steal money money from well-meaning relatives. Impostors pose as relatives in trouble, creating stories about an individual’s family to make the scenario sound authentic and tricking them into sending money. In a typical scenario, the caller tells the victim that he or she has been arrested overseas and is in need of money in order to be released by local authorities. The caller stresses the urgency of the situation and often claims to be embarrassed, asking the senior not to tell anyone else in the family about the call.
In some cases the victim may receive a call from a second individual claiming to be a law enforcement official who verifies the story. As in many scams, the caller then asks the senior to wire money through a service such as Western Union or provide prepaid debit card information so they can get payment quickly.
The IRS Scam
The scammer usually claims to be from the Internal Revenue Service or another government agency and informs the victim they did not pay or did not correctly file state or federal taxes. The victim is told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.
Residents are reminded that the IRS will always send taxpayers a written notification of any tax due via the U.S. mail. The IRS never asks for credit card, debit card or prepaid card information over the telephone. For more information on IRS Scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.
Foreign Lottery Scam
Typically the foreign lottery scam is conducted by an unknown caller who contacts the victim by phone and convinces them they have won a lottery. The victim is then told before they can claim their winnings they must first pay taxes on the prize money. After the victim mails payment in the form of a check, money order, or prepaid card, they are instructed to wait on a fictional date when the winnings will be sent to them. The winning are never received.
A good rule of thumb is to never wire or send money to anyone, anywhere who says you’ve won a prize. The odds are, it’s a scam.
Computer Phishing Scam
Computer phishing scams are a well-known form of scams. Someone calls or emails the victim pretending to want to help with a variety of common computer problems. The caller may state that he/she works for Microsoft or Apple and can fix the errors coming from your computer. They will then ask you to log on to correct problems and may ask for personal information. This is a scam! Do not follow their directions or advice and provide no information to them. Just hang up or delete the email.
A utility billing scam is targeting National Grid and NStar Electric customers in New England. The scammers demand immediate payment for utility balances, which customers most likely do not owe. The fraudulent callers claim to be from the utility company and threaten customers with service shut-off unless they provide immediate payment. As in other scams payment is demanded in the form of a wire transfer or prepaid card/money pack. Callers may also attempt to obtain credit card or bank account information that can be used to access the accounts.
Utility companies will contact customers via U.S. mail or online if you have signed up for that form of service. If you have any doubt about the caller, hang up immediately and call a customer service representative of the utility company.
Jury Duty Scam
In these types of scams, the caller pretends to be a sheriff’s deputy demanding money and threatening the resident with arrest for either failure to pay debts or failure to show up for jury duty.
The caller says that the resident has an active arrest warrant, which can be canceled if money is paid to them, usually via the purchase of a Green Dot MoneyPak or other pre-paid debit card. These calls are also fake.
Anyone who has questions regarding jury duty should contact the Office of Jury Commissioner at 617-422-5860.
These scams can also be reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1 or the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office at 617-727-8400 or electronically at http://www.eform.ago.state.ma.us/ago_eforms/forms/piac_ecomplaint.action.
As always, you can call the Ipswich Police Department at 978-356-4343 with any questions or concerns.