Thursday, July 7, 2005

Police give tips to avoid scams

Pigeon droppers are not targeting the elderly anymore, according to a press release from the Holly Springs Police Department.

Scam artists are looking for anyone that they can victimize, and there are a variety of ways that potential victims are approached – on the street, by a knock at the door, through the mail or Internet emails, web pages or bulletin boards.

Each year thousands of individuals are scammed our of their money – sometimes, their life savings.

In pigeon drop scams, swindlers most often work in pairs or teams. The scam artist can befriend an unsuspecting consumer, the “pigeon,” while the other approaches them with money or valuables he claims to have just found. After some rehearsed conversation, the con artist(s) agree to split the money with you and arrange to meet at a bank, lawyer’s office or other location of their choosing. The scam artist will sometimes ask if he or she can trust you. To get your share, you’ll need to put up some “good faith” money, which they will return to you after the goods are divided.

To prove yourself trustworthy, you turn over a large sum of money to them and later go to meet them at a designated location. Soon after arriving, you realize the scam artist is long gone – and so is your money.

Tips to Avoid Scams

  • If the situation seems unusual or if you feel uncomfortable, just walk away.
  • Financial institutions request that customers read and sign a form when they wish to withdraw a large sum of cash. The form alerts consumers to these scams and encourages them to talk to a bank or law enforcement officer if these conditions are present. This is not an attempt to keep your money or control how it is spent – it is to protect you from fraud.
  • Trust only people you know. Do not trust someone because he or she has a friendly voice or appears to be an authoritative figure. Swindlers usually are friendly and have honest faces and pleasant personalities. That is how they gain your trust and steal your money.
  • Talk to a law enforcement officer or your banker before withdrawing large sums of money at someone else’s request.

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