Tips to avoid common scams in Northern Nevada | NevadaAppeal.com

Tips to avoid common scams in Northern Nevada

Captain Brian Humphrey
Investigations Division
Carson City Sheriff’s Office

Carson City Sheriff's Office would like to remind the community of some ongoing scams and frauds that occur on a regular basis.

Too often we're seeing people lose money and personal information to scams. With the technology that's out there, the bad guys can hide anywhere. They can disguise their phone numbers and e-mails making it seem as if they're contacting from within the area you live. When in reality they might be in another state or even another country. The scammers are "spoofing" their phone numbers and e-mail addresses. "Spoofing" allows the suspect to masquerade as someone else by falsifying the number that appears on the victim's caller ID display or making it appear that a message came from any e-mail address the sender chooses.

In many of these scams, the bad guys want the victim to send the money in a gift card, iTunes card, money gram, or wire money in some way. No government agency will ask you to send money in this form of payment. Moreover, you have to ask yourself why a private person would want payment in this way also. If you fall for these scams, law enforcement will never be able to get your money back for you — pay attention to what your gut is telling you and know whom you're conducting business.

A recent scam that hit a resident in Carson City was when someone from another country was pretending to be a doctor and wanted to open up a business within the United States. The scammer convinced the victim to wire him a large amount of money to be able to pay taxes that would be required to open the business. The victim was promised that it would be a great investment and the victim would be a partner with the up and coming business.

Some of the common scams and frauds we see on a regular basis within this area are:

Telephone Scams

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The telephone scam stories are endless, they range from "you have won a prize" such as money, a new vehicle, lottery winnings, and cheap travel packages. Alternatively, they can be credit reduction, loans, charitable causes, fake business and investment opportunities.

Tax-Related Scams

Tax season is here, and every year the scammers come out with the same version of "you owe money" or go to jail scam. There are some variations to this, and the public should understand the following as provided by the IRS on its website; The IRS will never call to demand immediate payment using a particular payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes; it won't threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying and it won't demand you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount it says you owe; ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Overpayment & Fake Check Scams

This scam is commonly seen when someone has an item for sale on a third party website. Scammers will contact you usually by e-mail or text, indicating they want to purchase the item you have for sale. They will send you a check for a much larger amount than what the item is listed for. The scammer will ask you to deposit the large check into your bank account and wire them the difference. A deposited check can take several days or more to clear. When the original check turns out to be fake and bounces, the victim is responsible for the amount to the bank. The scammer will often have explanations for why the check is so large and sometimes will tell the victim to keep some of the extra money.

Sales and Rental Scams

This is common with purchasing or renting property, homes, or businesses. The scammer advertises online even with pictures telling potential victims to go by and look at the location. The scammer will never meet with you in person stating they're not able to. Then they will tell you to wire money to cover an application fee and security deposit. Once they have received your money, you will never hear from them again, and the property was never actually available or owned by them.

Law Enforcement/Court Scams/Emergency Scams

These scams involve someone contacting you stating they work for local law enforcement and you have a warrant or a fine to pay off. They will tell you it can all be handled over the phone with payment by a credit card. Another scam is when someone contacts you pretending to be a family member in need with some emergency. Either they've been in an accident, in the hospital, or in jail and need money right away.

This week, someone has been calling people stating he's "Lieutenant Sharp" with the Carson City Sheriff's Office.

The caller will tell people they've missed a jury summons and they owe a fine. The telephone number provided by the caller has a recording stating you've contacted either the Sheriff's Office or a Fines/Fees location with the Courts.

The local Courts and Sheriff's Office will never contact you in this manner to address an issue with missing a jury summons.

So be safe with your money and if you receive a suspicious phone call or email, don't send them money and contact the Sheriff's Office to report it.