Barbara EJ Bennett | Chief Scambuster, Larimer County Sheriff’s Office
Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Scammers, right down Santa Claus lane! Personally, I wish Santa would throw the scammers right off his sled on the way. But alas, they are blazing their way into our lives
Here is the last month’s highlight of active scammers. Be very alert as we move into the Christmas season.
TOP SCAM – LAW ENFORCEMENT IMPERSONATOR!!!
This scam has really hit a lot of our residents. This scammer calls and identifies himself as Sgt. Kevin Johnston from LCSO. He has an urgent legal matter to discuss. You missed a court hearing or failed to appear as an expert witness. We do have Sgt. Kevin Johnston working at the SO, but he is NOT the one calling. These scammers might give you a badge number or other identification to make them seem more legitimate. Just hang up. It is a ring of scammers hitting many locations across the US. They always use the actual name of an officer. They will also ask you to pay via cash app (Zelle, Venmo, CashApp), wire transfer, or bitcoin to an address or at a kiosk.
FACEBOOK SPONSORED ADS – These are sponsored ads, which means the company pays Facebook to place an ad on other posts or just as a sales ad. Some have brand names on the product – some say that a well-known company has endorsed this product(s). If you hit “Shop Now,” it will take you to a website that has nothing to do with the brand or company they used to make it look legitimate. Other ads may tell you that a well-known “Doctor,” a well-known “celebrity,” or “Shark Tank” has endorsed a supplement or medical device that will change your life.
Do not believe these ads – most of the products are from China, using sneaky marketing practices to make you think you will get the product they show. If you order the product, you may never receive it, or if you do, it will be a cheap version of what was shown on their ad. If you see a product advertised, go to Google or Amazon to search where you can buy that product from a legitimate company – with a good refund policy, usually a better price and better product, and order it from that business. When a “Doctor” or “celebrity” sponsors a product that promises results, it really is not a doctor. Modern technology allows scammers to make up a phony video from a well-known doctor or celebrity endorsing their product.
FREE GIFTS OR PRIZES ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Red flag – you won, but they need your credit card info to give you the prize. Never give out your personal information.
EVENT TICKET PURCHASES THROUGH 3RD PARTIESBeware! Some of these companies charge way over the actual ticket price. Always go directly to the event center or theater for tickets. Sometimes, you just pay too much, and other times, you may not get the tickets at all.
YOUR ORDER IS BEING HELD AT THE POST OFFICE
Do not be fooled – they are just trying to get your personal information.
- Always ensure you are on a protected network – not a public network – when ordering online
- Check the website of sponsored ads on social media – scammers may promote products by using well-known companies but are not representing them. They use the brand name to entice you to their website to purchase.
- If you see something on sponsored ads you really would like, google the product or check on Amazon for the same product. Purchase only from a reputable company that has a great refund policy. Typically, you can find the product elsewhere (and cheaper with a money-back guarantee.)
- Scammers set up fake websites – buyers beware.
- Only use safe payment methods – no debit cards, money cards, wire transfers, bitcoin, or cash apps. A credit card ensures you can dispute a fraudulent charge.
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
This technology is used to create fake ads for products using famous celebrities as promoters (without their permission). Products include weight loss supplements, products from the Shark Tank TV program, and other various products. They will show a picture of a celebrity who just lost tons of weight or built muscles without exercising, etc. Do not fall for these ads. AI is capable of creating fake pictures, fake websites, and fake endorsements.
REMEMBER: If you are reacting to an email, phone call, text, or social media offering and feel fear, excitement, sense of urgency, curiosity, etc.– please do NOT act – it is a scam. If you were in your rational thinking mode rather than an emotional reaction, you would see the red flags. Scammers want you to be compliant so you will give them what they want. Always keep in mind – if it seems too good to be true – it is! Listen to your instincts. And if you are asked to pay by cryptocurrency (bitcoin), wire transfer, cash apps (Venmo, Zelle), or gift/money cards – it is definitely a SCAM!
Please stay safe and thank all the contributors for sending me scams you are hearing about. I really appreciate hearing from you and getting the information on trending scams so we can share the information with as many citizens as possible – and am so happy to hear that you are recognizing a scam and are taking the appropriate measures!
Please share this information everywhere, and I am always willing to come to your group for a scam presentation.
Wishes for a joyous holiday season. We appreciate all of you.