The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has recently received reports of a disturbing phone scam targeting local residents.
As part of this scam, the scammer may call or send a text to the victim claiming that they are a member of a cartel. The scammer then threatens to kill the victim’s loved ones if they do not send thousands of dollars to the scammer immediately. The scammer has also reportedly sent graphic and disturbing images to victims attempting to convince the victims to send money.
If you receive these scam calls or texts, do not send money, but notify your local law enforcement.
Remember these tips to help 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 with which you do business. 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.
4. 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.
5. Don’t rely on personal information
Living in the digital age, access to information is easier than ever. Scammers are often able to get their hands on very personal information, providing it to their victims to make their scam look more legitimate. Don’t trust a scammer who is able to provide your personal information. If you followed the above tips and still aren’t sure, call back at a publicly listed number for the organization from which the scammer claims to be or contact your loved one directly.
Sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s scam alerts at ftc.gov/scams.
Visit USA.gov to learn how to report scams.
Visit https://humboldtgov.org/2864/Scam-Information to learn more about some of the common scams reported to the HCSO.