Defiance area residents have been subjected to multiple types of scams to kick off the new year.
According to Defiance Police Chief Todd Shafer, three scams residents have encountered include calls from people claiming to be from Apple and Social Security, as well as issues with the online site “letgo.”
Shafer explained that residents are getting calls on their home phone or cellphone supposedly from Apple.
“In a very persuasive manner, they instruct you to go to your computer and run a computer scan,” said Shafer. “The scammers advise, after remotely gaining access to your computer through the ‘scan,’ that there are major problems with your computer and that you need a network security card. They instruct you to go to various stores and purchase gift cards, green dot cards, VISA gift cards or Google gift cards.
“They also may instruct you to go to Walgreens and purchase a specific amount of gift cards to Amazon. The scammers are very convincing that it is not a scam and they are not fake. They instruct you go to Apple Security Network to attempt to convince you further it is not a scam.”
Other scammers will call and say there are things wrong with your Social Security number and that your number has been compromised, explained Shafer.
“They are very intimidating and convincing and they scam you out of your Social Security number before you know it. Never give out your Social Security number,” stressed Shafer.
The chief reported that there also have been scams with the online site letgo, a website and app that allows users to buy and sell, as well as chat with others locally.
“We see many scams with various online sites each week,” he said. “People need to be very vigilant when shopping online and giving out their debit/credit card information to these sites. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. If anyone ever tells you to go and purchase gift cards, that is an indication of a scam.”
In regards to senior citizens, he asked that people need to know that they “shouldn’t give out their personal information (especially Social Security number) or money, without checking with a trusted family member or friend.”
Shafer stressed to the public that if they don’t have anyone, they can come to the police department, or their bank, where someone else can verify if the call is a scam.
“Some of these scammers can be very scary and intimidating, telling the elderly person they have their grandchild in jail or something of that nature,” he said. “In one case, the elderly person came to the police department because she said someone called her and told her that her grandson was in jail for not wearing a seat belt, and he needed $500 for bail. She was supposed to go to Walgreens and purchase Green Dot cards for the bail. We knew immediately that it was more than likely a scam.”
The woman was advised to contact her grandson, who was fine and not detained.
Shafer relayed that most complaints such as these originate overseas and are not something local police departments can investigate.
Other typical scams include a false claim that you may have won the lottery or a financial award — something you never signed up to win. The catch is, to claim your prize you have to pay a fee — usually in the form of a wire transfer or money order. No one should have to pay prior to winning a prize — one that you likely won’t receive.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has a unit devoted to handling these crimes. If you suspect someone is trying to scam you, call 800-282-0515 or go to www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.