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Scam artists still trying to cheat, steal

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Lottery winnings, tax bills among the many ways crooks try to get your money

By VINCE LUECKE
Editor

TELL CITY – Just when he thinks he’s seen every possible type of scam attempt, Tell City Police Department Lt. Alan Malone says something new crops up.  

“It’s a constant effort, whether by phone or mail or text message, to get someone else’s money,” he said.

The sad thing, Malone said, is that the bad guys score too often, convincing someone to send cash by money order or wire transfer.
Once  sent, the money is almost impossible to recover. Malone said local residents have lost thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars, to scam attempts.

The ploys change sometimes but often have common threats. The most popular scams  involve alleged lottery winnings in which the “winner” needs to send cash to cover taxes on winnings or processing fees. Sometimes the calls are even more dastardly.

Scammers have placed calls to parents and grandparents claiming to be family members, often a  teenager or young adult, who has supposedly been arrested or jailed. The caller requests bond money and provides an address to either mail or wire money. Again, once  sent, the money vanishes.

Last week some local people got calls from someone saying they were in trouble with the IRS and had only an hour or two to call about an unknown debt and threatened unspecified consequences.

German American Bank said last week its name is being used in some scam attempts and said those making calls do not have access to account information and said no one should respond to calls.

Malone said the best advice is simple. Don’t fall prey to the often-slick sales pitches or requests for upfront cash.

Never disclose personal information or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth or Social Security numbers to strangers.

Never give money to strangers or in response to mystery lottery winnings.

• Banks never call and ask for personal identification to telemarketers, even if residents want to talk with them, must readily identify themselves.  
• Don’t buy from unfamiliar companies. Legitimate businesses understand many of their customers want more information before passing over a credit card or check.
• It’s often a good idea to obtain salespeoples names, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business.
Many con artists give out false names, telephone numbers, addresses, and business license numbers.
• Don’t pay in advance for services. Pay for services only after they are delivered.
• Malone said some people are initially alarmed and frightened when scam artists already know some basic information, such as where they bank or the bank’s routing numbers.

That information is often publicly available and can be found with a little research.

The best advice, Malone said, is an often-repeated adage. “If it sounds too good to be true, it just about always is,” he said.