The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has received reports of three phone scams targeting residents this week.
A local resident reported receiving a call from someone claiming to be with the online marketplace Amazon. According to the victim, the caller said that the victim’s Amazon account had been hacked and that someone had spent almost $800 using their account. In order to somehow rectify the account, the caller instructed the victim to buy 10 iTunes gift cards and 10 Google Play gift cards, totaling $2,000. The victim then received another call from the scammer instructing the victim to buy another $1,000 worth of gift cards. The victim was instructed to provide the gift cards’ numbers to the scammers. By the time the victim realized it was all a scam, they were out $3,000.
A local resident, who is a legal permanent resident of the United States with citizenship in another country, received a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS. The caller knew some of the victim’s personal information and used that information to convince the victim that they owed money to the IRS. The caller then demanded the victim buy $4,000 in Google Play gift cards and provide the gift cards’ numbers to the caller. The caller would not allow the victim to hang up and threatened to have the victim arrested and deported if they did not do what was asked.
Sergeant Marshall Scam
Multiple residents report receiving a phone call from someone named “Sergeant Marshall” or “Deputy Marshall” with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. The caller claims that the victim missed jury duty and that they must pay a fine or will be arrested. The caller instructs victims to buy gift cards and then provide the gift card numbers to the caller as payment.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public that government agencies and honest companies will never require you to pay for a fine or a service with a gift card or by wiring money through services such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Additionally, the Sheriff’s Office will never call you and threaten to arrest you if you do not pay a fine, demand payment in exchange for dropping a warrant, ask you to pay a fine over the phone, ask you to meet a deputy outside the courthouse to pay a fine or call you to pay bail for a loved one.
Five ways to protect yourself from fraud:
1. Spot imposters
Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, a family member, a charity or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request – whether it comes as a text, a phone call or an email.
2. Do online searches
Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.
3. Don’t believe your caller ID
Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine. The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office number is (707) 445-7251.
4. Don’t pay upfront for a promise
Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.
5. Talk to someone
Before you give up your money or personal information, talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.
Sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s scam alerts at ftc.gov/scams.
Visit https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds#item-35157 to learn how to report scams.