News Release 07/06/14-Construction Scam Awareness
The Evansville Police Department wants to remind tri-state homeowners and businesses that with the warming spring and summer weather comes the possibility of various forms of construction scams. This is the prime time of year for home improvement fraud as well as driveway and parking lot sealing and paving scams sometimes involving subjects from out of state who may offer what seems like a price well below what local contractors quote. We encourage area residents and businesses to be vigilant regarding subjects actively soliciting painting, paving, sealing, or other property improvement services. You should hire only licensed contractors who can provide proof of insurance and bonding. Evansville residents and businesses who believe they have been a victim of such a scheme should contact the Evansville Police Department Financial Crimes Unit at (812)436-7991. Area residents and businesses outside of the City of Evansville who believe they have been victimized should contact their agency of jurisdiction.
Caller ID Spoofing
Recently, a resident received a phone call from a person posing as a debt collector. The caller claimed the resident owed several hundred dollars and would be arrested if they did not pay. The Caller ID showed the call was from the Evansville Police Department and listed an actual EPD phone number. The resident was suspicious and contacted EPD.
The Evansville Police Department is not involved in the collection of debts.
Technology exists that enables callers to manipulate the name and phone number displayed on the recepient's Caller ID display. There are several websites that specialize in selling these types of services.
If you receive a suspicious call, it is recommended that you do not provide any sensitive personal information to the caller. You can then contact the business or agency directly through a published phone number to determine if the call is legitimate.
Bail Bond Scam
A local resident received a call from a person claiming to be a lawyer for the resident's friend. The caller claimed the friend had been arrested and requested the resident provide bail money. The resident purchased prepaid credit cards and then provided the card numbers to the caller to post the bail. Once the resident realized this was a scam, the money had already been transfered from the cards.
In this type of scam, the suspect preys on the victim's desire to help a friend or relative in need. These calls are often received in the middle of the night or on weekends. When questioned, the caller often claims that the friend or relative is in danger and the payment is needed immediately.
It is suggested that a person receiving this type of call attempt to directly contact the friend or detaining law enforcement agency/ correctional facility to confirm the legitimacy of the call.
Counterfeit US Currency
Suspects passing counterfeit currency continues to be a problem for local residents and businesses. Currently, the most commonly encountered counterfeit US currency are twenty and one hundred dollar bills. For tips on identifying counterfeit currency, got to www.secretservice.gov and explore the "Know Your Money" page.
Work at Home Scams
A common scam involves advertisements that claim to offer significant income while working from home. These advertisements can be found online and in the print media. There are many variations of this scam. Some recently encountered ones involve promotional advertising and reshipping items to foreign or domestic locations. The con artists usually require the applicant to provide personal identifying information and/or bank acount information. The con artist often sends the victim a check in excess of the agreed amount, asks the victim to deposit it in their bank account, and then send the overage back to the sender or a third party via check, money order, or electronic means. By the time the victim discovers that the payment they received is fraudulent, the con artist has the victim's money. The con artist can also then use the personal information provided by the victim to commit identity theft. Residents should thoroughly investigate any work at home offers before providing personal information.
One-Ring Phone Scam
Police nationwide are warning residents about the "one-ring phone scam," which uses auto-dialers to target cell phone numbers across the country. The danger to consumers is not in receiving the call, but in calling back.
Scammers let the phone ring once and then hang up, prompting a missed call notification on phones. When an intended victim returns the call, police say they hear a message like "You've reached the operator, please hold," while being slammed by a heft per-minute charge on top of an international rate. Police say the calls come from phone numbers with three-digit area codes that look like they are from within the U.S., but are actually associated with international phone numbers.
The area codes used by scammers include 268, 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.
To protect themselves, police advise cell phone owners to ignore a call like this should they receive one. If you're tempted to call back for whatever reason, check the number on online directories or search engines first so you can confirm where the phone is registered or see if it's listed as a scam phone number.
If you have been the victim of the scam, police say to try to resolve the charges with your cell phone carrier and, if that doesn't work, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications commission.
Although EPD has not received any complaints about this scam we feel it is important for the community awareness.