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Phone Scam Alert Issued By Dutchess County Sheriff

Dutchess County Sheriff's car. Photo Credit: Flickr
Phone scammers may target the elderly. Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT file photo

The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Department is cautioning Hudson Valley homeowners to be aware of phone scams that have made the rounds throughout the country.

An alert has been issued warning of fraudsters who will pose as a member of law enforcement or another relative in an effort to convince their victims that the scheme is legitimate to steal money. In one recent scam, the person was told that their local Sheriff’s Office would come to their house and arrest them if they didn’t pay.

According to the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, phone scams “are ways in which criminals will attempt to get money from people by calling them and making up elaborate stories. In most of these cases, the perpetrators have tried, sometimes successfully, to use the victim’s emotions about a loved one in trouble to get money. It’s also common for the perpetrators of these scams to try to get money by telling people that one of their relatives has been seriously hurt or is in jail, and that they need money right away.”

In an effort to assist Hudson Valley residents from becoming victimized by scammers, the Dutchess County Sheriff's Office issued a series of tips:

  • Do not meet up with someone that you don’t know; if you’re asked to do this it is surely a scam, and it is very dangerous as well;
  • If you’re called by someone you don’t know asking for money, for any reason, that’s a signal that it’s most likely a scam. Normally people will not just call people they don’t know out of the blue and ask for money;
  • If someone sends you either money or merchandise that you weren’t expecting, it is most likely part of a scam, and in most of these cases, they will ask you to cash the check and then send them a portion of it back. If this happens to you, use extreme caution, don’t cash the check, and call the Sheriff’s Office;
  • If someone calls you and tells you that a relative has been hurt or is in jail, confirm it first before sending any money. Call other relatives or a legitimate law enforcement agency for confirmation before any money is sent. If they’re posing as a relative, contact that relative for confirmation;
  • Sending money overseas is especially risky; use extreme caution;
  • Ask the person for their call back number and ask to speak to their supervisor to confirm the info; if it’s a scam they will most likely hang up at this point;
  • If the person is telling you that a loved one is in the hospital or jail, find out which one and contact the institution yourself to confirm;
  • If a loved one has recently passed away be wary, in some cases perpetrators have even preyed on victims by using information in an obituary. The information in an obituary is public so it can be easily accessed by scammers for identity theft and other frauds/scams. When it’s time to write an obituary give the age but leave out the actual birth date, middle name, home address, birthplace, and mother’s maiden name. In addition, if you get calls from people you don’t know soon after someone passes away, be careful and confirm it before you send any money;
  • In some cases someone will call and tell the victim that they’ve won money, but to “process the claim” they need to first send money. Beware this is most definitely a scam and don’t send any money – you should never have to pay money to claim a prize. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is;
  • If there’s any doubt about a phone call you’ve received, contact the Sheriff’s Office before sending any money.

"It is very important to not send any money to anyone that you don’t know until you’ve confirmed the situation through an independent source and feel comfortable with it. If it’s a scam once the money is sent, it’s very difficult, and most times impossible, to get it back".

Anyone who believes they may be the victim of a scam or who receives a similar type of call has been asked to contact the Sheriff's Office by calling (845) 486-3800 or the tip line at (845) 605-CLUE.

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