August 6, 2009

Scam Artists Hit Scotland County Residents for $4,500

Scam artists have taken more than $4,500 from a pair of local residents and the Scotland County Sheriff’s Department is warning citizens to be wary of the growing number of consumer complaints being received.

Sheriff Wayne Winn stated his office is investigating two separate incidents that resulted in the loss of several thousand dollars.

The first case involved the sale of puppies on the Internet. A local seller was contacted and reached an agreement to sell several animals to an alleged buyer.

The Seller received a check well in excess of the agreed upon sale amount. The buyer then requested the seller, cash the check and return the excess to the buyer, which the seller did.

Unfortunately the transaction took place prior to the original check clearing the bank, meaning the seller was unaware it was a bogus check. In the meantime, a check for roughly $1,400 was mailed back to the buyer, and cashed by the scam artist, bilking the seller out of the amount.

A second scam is being investigated regarding the loss of approximately $3,100 by a local resident who was led to believe they had won a $250,000 sweepstakes.

The bogus callers, tricked the “winner” into sending a series of payments to the scam artist that were supposed to trigger the release of the grand prize money. The process was extended, with return calls, stating the payments were not received, and another check should be mailed immediately with the threat that the sweepstakes would expire.

The scam went as far as to ultimately include a fake call from an “FBI” agent notifying the “winner” that they had been scammed. The bogus law enforcement caller then asked the victim to send one final payment, which would be “tracked” by the FBI and allow them to catch the scam artists and return all of the victim’s money.

Sheriff Winn warned area residents that such illegal activity is on the rise.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Winn. “If something like this happens to you, please contact us. We will be happy to look into it before you send any money, to try to insure it is not a scam.”

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