Watch Out! Scams

8 Red Flags for Common Scams

There are several common characteristics of scams.  If you are concerned that you or a family member are being, or have been "scammed,” examine your situation with the red flags listed below.  If you suspect that you or your family member have in fact been scammed, contact your local law enforcement right away. 

1. Scams can originate through email.  

  • Email scams are a "numbers' game."  Millions of emails are sent.  The "con or scammer" hopes to be successful in only one or two out of millions of emails.  Be sure the person whom you are communicating with is from a reputable company.  Call your local law enforcement if you are in doubt.

2. Scams can originate from phone calls.  

  • If someone calls you by phone requesting a donation for a cause you find worthy of a donation, first gather information from the caller about this company, and do your own research prior to donating to the company.

3. Scams often involve people promising to do repair work on your home.  

  • These scams most often require you to pay first before the work is completed.  Another similar scam may involve people wanting to enter your home to check on your air-conditioner, cable, phone, water heater, etc.  Before allowing someone you don't personally know to perform work on your home, contact the Better Business Bureau.  Additionally, NEVER allow any repairman into your home that you have not called and requested.  Even then, he should have proper identification.

4. Many scams involve "found" currency.  

  • This scam is widely known as the "pigeon drop."  Although there are many versions of the pigeon drop, generally speaking, a "player" in the scam "finds" money and offers to share it with the would-be victim.  This "found money" is usually "discovered" in a parking lot and the victim is required to put up "good faith" money to "hold" their share of the "found money."  The idea is that the "found money" will be split among party's if the money is never claimed by the owner.  The "owner" never seems to be located and once the victim puts of "good faith" money, the original "player" is never seen again.

5. Scams often involve other countries.  

  • Whether the scam involves foreign money (as is often seen in the "Pigeon Drop" scam), or whether communications like emails or letters originate from other countries, these are many times scams wanting to steal your money.  A common scam involving foreign communications is the email scam from a "Nigerian attorney" trying to finalize someone's estate.

6. Scams often require "putting up your own money in good faith."  

  • This is also common in the "pigeon drop" scam.  NEVER put up money in "good faith" for ANY reason until you have spoken with law enforcement or your own personal attorney. Some scams even result in a "player" in a scam attempting to force a person to withdraw money from their bank account.  At this point the scam becomes a robbery or theft.  This type of coercion or intimidation more often occurs with elderly victims.

7. Scams can involve "personal loans." 

  • These types of scams can become civil matters as opposed to criminal matters.  Often this type of scam results when a con builds a relationship with the victim and eventually asks for a loan of some kind.  The con "promises" to pay the money back.  Ultimately, the victim never sees the con again and the money is never repaid.  Contact your local law enforcement if this happens to you.  The local district attorney will make the determination of whether a crime has occurred or if the case is a civil matter.

8. Scams most often target the elderly or others susceptible to intimidation. 

  • People should regularly communicate with elderly parents or family members.  No one should ever donate or loan any substantial amounts of money without first checking with family, law enforcement, money managers or other confidants.

Please contact your local law enforcement if you feel that you or a loved one has lost money in a scam.