Arizona top 10 for reported fraud in U.S. | The Daily Courier
A recently released report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ranked Arizona as the No. 7 state in 2018 when it came to reported cases of fraud. The state claimed the same ranking for the first quarter of 2019 as well.
Of the 11,588 fraud reports the FTC received from law enforcement in Arizona between January and April of this year, topping the list of most frequently reported fraud types were identity theft (19%) and imposter scams (17%).
“This trend seems to mirror what we are seeing locally,” said Dwight D’Evelyn, spokesperson with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office. “Imposter scams are on the increase based on my overview of cases this year.”
Imposter scams come in many varieties, but work the same way: A scammer pretends to be someone you trust – such as a government or company official – to convince you to send them money.
When scammers call potential victims over the phone, their caller identifications will sometimes even read “IRS,” “County Jail” or something else one might think is legitimate.
“Don’t trust the initial caller ID, because a lot of people can actually skim those numbers and make it look like it’s an actual company or agency,” said James Risinger, support services supervisor with the Prescott Valley Police Department.
Scammers rely on eliciting an emotional response from victims to the point of irrational action. They sometimes will do this by citing information about you that they gleaned from the internet, police said.
“The information is easily accessible,” Prescott Police Department Lt. Corey Kasun said. “These suspects can look at your social media accounts, see that you have a granddaughter and say that she was in a car accident and money needs to be wired to help bail her out of jail for a DUI – or something like that.”
Many of these scammers are operating from other countries or have made it almost impossible to trace back to their locations or identities, so if someone falls for the fraudulent scheme, the suspects often get away with it scot-free.
Businesses have been able to help prevent these sort of scams by talking to victims who are trying to make unusual transactions.
“In some cases, knowledgeable retail clerks and bank employees have been instrumental in convincing victims attempting to buy pre-paid gift cards that they may be involved in a scam,” D’Evelyn said.
Knowing this, Kasun and other officers have done presentations at local banks to encourage them to be these sort of local watchdogs, Kasun said.
“We tell staff at the banks that if elderly people are coming in and wanting to wire or send money and it just doesn’t seem right, call us first,” he said.
They also host occasional workshops about scam and fraud prevention that are open to the public. One such session was on April 24 at Las Fuentes Resort Village in Prescott, and another similar opportunity is scheduled for June 12 at Yavapai College (more information below).
The fundamental rule law enforcement recommend when determining if something is a scam or not is: Always verify the information you are being provided. If you receive an “urgent” message from a company or agency over the phone, in the mail, or online stating that you must send money or provide personal information immediately in order to receive a prize or avoid facing some sort of penalty, take a moment to think about it.
“If you think it may be legitimate, ask for another number that you can call them back on, or look up the number for that government agency and give them a call before you give any personal information out,” Kasun said.
If you believe it is a scam, call your local police agency and provide it with whatever information you have so a member of the department may look into it and make record of it.
UPCOMING SENIOR SAFETY FAIR
In collaboration with other entities in Yavapai County, the PPD is hosting a senior safety fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12, at Yavapai College’s Prescott campus. The fair will take place inside building 19 in the college’s community room (the library).
“A lot of it’s going to be on this fraud stuff, and just going over current events that we’re seeing in our community to really arm some of our senior people with information to help prevent stuff like this from occurring,” Kasun said.
For more information, email Leila.ranzieprescott-az.gov, or call 928-777-1965.
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