By Ann Marie Shambaugh
Carmel police are urging residents to use caution and common sense as they’ve recently received several reports about scam artists, operating both on the phone and in person.
Some scammers are asking for money to bail a relative of the victim out of jail. Others are using fake names and claiming to be from the Hamilton County Sherriff’s Office attempting to collect a fine for missing jury duty. At least one victim lost $1,000 after receiving a call that demanded back taxes be paid in iTunes gift cards.
“Everybody has that gut feeling (that says) this doesn’t feel right, this doesn’t sound right, and people need to act on that more often,” Bickel said. “If something doesn’t sound right, follow up on it further. Ask questions. Get contact phone numbers.”
Once a victim has lost money to a scam it can be very difficult to recover, Bickel said, as most scammers are tech savvy and know how to hide their digital tracks. Some victims have been able to avoid a financial loss by cancelling a payment that seemed suspicious right away, but others have lost thousands of dollars before realizing what happened.
“A lot of times when you’re scammed out of money there’s a good chance you’ll never see that money again,” Bickel said.
Police urge anyone who thinks they may have been contacted by a scammer to report it to police, whether they lost money or not.
“Let us know what’s going on. We want to be able to inform the public, share information and relay that info to our detectives,” Bickel said. “If there’s some type of trend going on we want to make sure that other people are aware.”
For more information or to report a scam, call CPD at 317-571-2580.
Avoid a scam
- CPD recommends a few “common sense” tips to avoid falling victim to a scam:
- Deal locally with people you can meet in person – police say this will help avoid 99 percent of scam attempts.
- Use caution when wiring funds via Western Union, Moneygram or any other wire service.
- Fake cashiers checks and money orders are common, and banks will cash them and hold the victim responsible when the fake is discovered weeks later.
- Never give out personal or financial information.
- Avoid deals involving shipping or escrow services and know that only a scammer will “guarantee” the transaction.