Crime Prevention

Fraud Prevention

websiteBarChart.jpgOur Financial Crimes and Fraud Unit works tirelessly to investigate and solve a diverse array of criminal fraud cases that occur in our community. National data suggests the number of fraud cases is on the decline; however, the financial losses from these crimes continue to skyrocket.

Scammers are creating sophisticated scams that enable them to siphon an increasing amount of money from community members. Victims increasingly include individuals of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds who believe this could never happen to them.

While the work from this unit diligently holds these scammers accountable, oftentimes the perpetrators of these schemes are outside our county, state, and frequently outside of the United States. This distance makes prosecution difficult, with the result being monies that are difficult to recover, and scammers that continue to act without regard for the residents of Pima County.

Fraud prevention ultimately starts with you, and outreach and education continue to be the strongest tools to prevent scammers from taking advantage of our residents. If you know the signs and tactics these scammers use, you can empower yourself and those around you to stop the scams before they start.


We are very proud to have help supported efforts for fraud prevention with the Federal Bureau of Investigations recently.

Thank you to our Federal Partners for inviting us to this event.

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Family Emergency

HOW THESE SCAMS WORK:
You receive a call from your grandchild, and they sound frantic. They tell you “I got in a car accident, and they are going to tow my car!” They are speaking really fast as they tell you “The tow truck company is going to impound my car, so I need you to help me out and send me some money right now!” They sound exactly like your grandchild, and you really want to help them.

In these scams, the caller will often ask you to keep these conversations a secret. This is done to isolate you from others who would be able to identify what is going on, people like your real grandchild!

Family emergencies unfortunately do happen, and that is what makes these types of scams so effective. Scammers are good at convincing their victims that they are who they are pretending to be. With the technology that is available today such as social media websites and call spoofing, it is easier to find and use information about your loved ones to aid them in this deception.

PREVENTION TIPS:

  • Take some time to collect your thoughts before taking any action.
  • Tell them that you will call them right back. Look up their number in your own phone or phonebook and call them. Chances are, they are not in any trouble.
  • Call another family member or family friend who would be able to get a hold of your grandchild and have them check on them.
  • You can always contact The Pima County Sheriff’s Department if you are ever
  • concerned for the safety of your loved ones.

Government Impersonator Scams

HOW THESE SCAMS WORK:
You get a call, email, or text message from someone who says they are from The Pima County Sheriff’s Department, and they claim that they have a warrant for your arrest. To fix this, they say you must pay them $5,000. They instruct you to deposit the money into a specific Bitcoin machine, at a specific location, into a specific account. The scammer keeps contact with you the entire time making the situation appear urgent. Once the transaction is completed, the scammer might tell you they found another warrant and you need to complete the process again with another $5,000.

The caller may know some of your personal information and your caller ID might even show that it is your local law enforcement agency who is calling you. But is it really the police calling?

The truth is, that law enforcement will NEVER contact you and demand money in any form as a way to avoid an arrest. Caller ID’s can be spoofed (faked) easily, so if you are not sure, contact the agency at a phone number you know to be true (not the one they called
you from).


PREVENTION TIPS:

  • Collect information about the officer (scammer), such as name, badge, and agency.
  • Do not any send cash, gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency to a stranger.
  • Law Enforcement will never demand payment of any kind to clear an arrest warrant.
  • Resist the pressure to stay in contact with them. Hang up and give yourself time to consider the facts.
  • Locate a verified phone number for the law enforcement agency and confirm that they and the warrant are legitimate.

Investment Scams

HOW THESE SCAMS WORK:
You are contacted by a very professional sounding gentleman, who offers you the deal of a lifetime! He tells you that he is the owner of a local business in Pima County, and he is looking for investors who are interested in making some quick and easy cash. He guarantees that you will double your money with little to no risk of losing any of it. He goes on to tell you that other individuals in your area have invested, and that many of them have already received double, and in some cases, triple their initial investment! He urges and pressures you to act fast or you will miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when it comes to making any investments, and anyone who tells you otherwise is likely trying to scam you. It is important to be aware that investment scams can take on many forms. Whether it is an investment in real estate, cryptocurrency, or a new local business, there will always be some risk associated with any investment.


PREVENTION TIPS:

  • Slow down and take your time. Scammers will often try to rush you into making hasty decisions.
  • Take good notes on important details such as the name of the business and what it does, who you are speaking with, phone numbers, etc.
  • Tell them that you will call them back after you have had the time to look into their offer. Legitimate companies are usually willing to allow you some time to come to an informed decision.
  • Search the internet for any reviews on the company as well as any phone numbers and names that you were given. Note any articles or posts that mention “Complaints” or “scams” when conducting your research.
  • Talk to trusted friends or family about the offer as they might voice questions or concerns that you have not yet considered.
  • The Pima County Sheriff’s Department is a great resource to help answers any questions as well.

Lottery & Sweepstakes Scams

HOW THESE SCAMS WORK:
You get a call, text, or an email from an unknown source telling you that you have won 1.5 million dollars in lottery prizes. It may even appear to come from a legitimate lottery. You don’t remember playing the lottery, but the individual (scammer) is very convincing. The person tells you that in order to receive the lottery winnings you will need to pay the associated taxes and fees first. You are instructed to go to your bank and make a wire transfer from your bank account to another account they have given to you. They tell you to think nothing of transferring away your life savings because once you make this payment, you will be a millionaire.

These types of scams are very prevalent because everyone can use an extra 1.5 million dollars! They offer to give you a life changing amount of money as a prize, but in the end the only one giving away any money is you. Whatever the story is that they tell you, the request is always the same: wire money to pay taxes or fees. If you pay this small amount of money, then you will receive a large amount of money in return. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.


PREVENTION TIPS:

  • You will never be instructed to pay taxes for winnings from a legitimate lottery. The taxes are automatically withdrawn from the winnings prior to release.
  • Never give out your private bank account numbers over the phone, unless you are absolutely sure of the identity of the person receiving it.
  • Verify the lottery is legitimate by looking up contact information online, in the phonebook, or at their physical location and speaking with a legitimate representative of the company.
  • Never use any contact information provided by the scammer when verifying their information.
  • If you did play the lottery in which you have won, look at the lottery website to verify what numbers were drawn.
  • Call someone you trust like a family member, close friend, or law enforcement, and ask their opinion on the situation before sending any money.

Romance Scams

HOW THESE SCAMS WORK:
So, you’re chatting with someone on social media, maybe even a dating app. Things seem to be going great— They’re really sweet, saying all the right things. But there is a catch—they claim to live far away and they cannot meet you at a moments notice. They may often make plans to meet up with you, but it’s always in the future, and it never seems to happen.

Then they start asking you for money. They might say it’s for a plane ticket to finally come and meet you, or for some sudden medical emergency. There will always be something that comes in between the two of you, and whatever it is, it usually requires more money to get it resolved.

Scammers come in all shapes and sizes. They make up fake personas, steal photos, and spin elaborate tales all to get their hands on your cash. If this sounds anything like your relationship, don’t fall for it! It’s highly likely the person you think you are talking to does not exist.


PREVENTION TIPS:

  • Stop and think. Don’t give away your hard-earned money.
  • Avoid sending cash, gift cards, cryptocurrency, or completing wire transfers to someone you’ve met online romantically. Once it’s gone, it’s likely gone for good.
  • Spread the word. Even if you haven’t fallen for a romance scam, someone you know might be at risk, or may have already been targeted.

Tech Support Scams

HOW THESE SCAMS WORK:
Have you ever gotten a call or message from someone claiming to be a computer whiz? Or maybe a number popped up on your screen out of the blue? Perhaps you were just trying to find some tech support online and stumbled upon a phone number. The person on the line says they’re from a big company like Microsoft or Apple, and they start talking about viruses or malware lurking on your computer. They might ask for remote access or insist
that you buy some software to get things fixed. But can you really trust them? According to reports sent to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, probably not.

These tech support scammers might try to sell you things you don’t need, copy your credit card numbers, or even install malware onto your computer that could allow then to them see everything on your system, including your passwords.


TIPS FOR PREVENTION:

  • If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming there’s an issue with your computer, hang up—it’s likely a scam.
  • If you require technical help, reach out to someone you trust and call them using a verified phone number you know to be valid.
  • The numbers displayed in search engine results aren’t always reliable. Stay safe and cautious!

Additional Resources

Contact one of the three credit bureaus to place a fraud alert. You only need to call one of them because when initiating the fraud alert process, they are required to alert the other two bureaus:

  • Experian.com/help
    1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion.com/credit-help
    1-888-909-8872
  • Equifax.com/personal/credit-report-services
    1-800-685-1111

If someone uses your social security number to obtain credit, loans, phone accounts, or other goods and services, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission:

  • FTC.gov/idtheft
    1-877-438-4338

If you believe somebody has used your information to commit unemployment assistance benefits fraud, file a report with the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES):

  • Fraudreferralexternal.azdes.gov
    1-800-251-2436

Contact your local law enforcement agency to report fraud associated with counterfeit money or goods. They will forward your report to the United States Secret Service for investigation.

  • Pima County Sheriff's Department Non-Emergency line (520)351-4900

To report fraud associated with mail service through the United States Postal Service, file a report with the US Postal Inspectors Service at:

  • USPIS.gov/report
    1-877-876-2455 to report mail theft

 

If there is an emergency, call 911