Keeping watch for scams

Published 2:22 pm Thursday, August 16, 2018

TRIAD, an organization that partners with area law enforcement such as Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office and Farmville Police Department, and with area and state organizations such as the Virginia Attorney General’s Office, Piedmont Senior Resources, Virginia Bureau of Insurance, Seniors and Law Enforcement Together and Home Recovery Home Aid, held an informative event last week to help make people aware of common scams, particularly by phone, and how to report them.

During the event, Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office officer Sarah Coen identified the most common instances of fraud reported to the sheriff’s office recently. These instances include a caller saying a loved one is in jail, and they need residents’ money to bail them out; a caller offering financial aid, or free money; calls from the IRS; callers claiming to be deputies and Dominion Energy asking residents for money for unpaid citations; requests for gift cards in exchange for supposedly – won prizes, even one call about an alleged kidnapping incident where the caller asked the resident to buy gift cards.

My grandparents received a similar phone call that claimed to be about one of their grandsons who was in prison. The caller asked them to send money to bail him out. My grandmother was disturbed by the news, but was not certain that the caller was her grandson, even after he told her his voice had changed because of a cold. My grandmother didn’t end up sending the money and found out later that her instincts proved right and that the call was a scam.

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Some of the warning signs of a scam can be difficult to see. This is especially the case when the calls create concern about a family member, panic about an unpaid ticket or excitement about winning a free trip.

It’s important to make sure to check in with a family member, friend, neighbor, or even go online to check and make sure the organization the company is claiming to be is correct. The IRS, Dominion Energy, and police, for example, won’t notify people that they need to pay fines by phone. Typically, they will send notifications by mail or certified mail.

If you’ve been contacted by, or are a victim of a scam, make sure to report it to the local sheriff or police.

EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH is a staff reporter for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Emily.Hollingsworth@