Scam Alert

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By Patrick Yost (editor)

First it was the Internal Revenue Service calling and demanding money.

Then it was a kidnapping scheme. Now a relative has been involved in a wreck and needs cash for medical care. And its all bogus.

According to Morgan County Sheriff’s Office reports, this week’s phone scam involves a Hispanic–sounding male calling from 706 474–3602. The pitch: a relative has been involved in an accident that injured one of the caller’s relatives and money is demanded for payment for medical bills. Typically a demand is made for $2,000 to $3,000. The caller also will say that they have the relative in confinement and will hold them or shoot them if the money isn’t sent either via wire transfer or through a GreenDot money card.

“Hang up,” says Madison Police Chief Bill Ashburn. And he is speaking not only of this week’s scam but also of previous scams were callers would pretend to be with the Internal Revenue Service and demand payment of back taxes (again, via a wire transfer or GreenDot money card transfer) or the victim would be arrested. Or pretend to be with a law enforcement agency and demand payment of a fine or the victim would be arrested.

“That is not how any of this is done,” Ashburn said. Typically, he said, the calls are coming from international numbers masked to appear to be local. The callers typically have accents. “Most of the time those people are out of the country,”

Ashburn says the con artists pray on frantic victims who, out of immediate concern and fear, don’t think through what the caller is demanding. “Even though it’s alarming it’s not happening. Just hang up,” Ashburn says.

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