Washoe County Sheriff warns of scams against seniors

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office warns citizens about increased activity in various scams targeting senior citizens.

Detectives report a notable spike in technology-based scams throughout the past 10 days, specifically scammers who impersonate technical support representatives, or scammers who send phishing emails.  When victims click on pop-up “tech support” windows their computers may be disabled for ransom.

Otherwise, victims may click on links within phishing emails and scammers will access personal identifying information.

“The best advice I can give these days is to assume any unsolicited request for money or financial information, coming from a source that you are not 100 percent confident is legitimate, should be treated as a scam,” said Sheriff Darin Balaam.

Balaam advises that every request or demand for finances should be independently verified. Otherwise, citizens have the potential to lose 10 of thousands of dollars in an era when it is very difficult for law enforcement to track the scammers and recover your loss.


Common fraud scams

Family member arrest scam: You receive a call from someone who calls stating you are their grandparent, or they are your grandchild and they are in legal trouble. The scammer will ask for you to send money immediately or they will get in worse trouble.

Warrant scam: You receive a phone call stating you have a warrant for your arrest and you must pay in a non-traditional method immediately i.e. gift cards or Western Union.

Bank call scam: You receive a phone call from someone who says they work for the bank. They state there is a problem with your account, and they need your account information and PIN to fix it.

Tax scam: You receive a phone call from someone identifying themselves as an IRS agent. The scammer will state you owe the IRS money and need to pay them immediately with a non-traditional method i.e. gift cards or Western Union.

Tech support scam: you receive a phone call and/or pop-up window on your computer from someone identifying themselves as IT (computer support). They state your computer has a virus and they need information and/or payment from you to fix it.

Romance scam: You will be solicited by someone stating they want to talk to you and possibly start a romantic relationship with you. The scammer will state they are non-local to your location and at some point during the conversations will state they need money for travel, for lodging, etc.

“Be smart. Take steps to protect your personal identity and finances and talk with your friends and family to be sure that they are aware of potential scams as well,” Balaam said. “Public awareness is one of the most important keys to preventing this type of scam. The caller may use your name, address, and other identifying information to sound convincing but keep in mind that information is often easily obtainable through resources available to the public.”


Common fraud indicators

  • Do not give any personal identifying information over the phone. If for some reason you feel the call is from a legitimate business, tell the caller you will call back and dial the main business number. Do so, and ask for the original caller.
  • Anyone who asks you to pay for anything with any of the following: gift cards; bank account number; Western Union; Venmo; PayPal; Zelle; Green Dot Cards; Visa Cash, Master Card Cash; and American Express Cash.
  • You must “act now” or do something while still on the phone. No legitimate service operates with this need of immediacy.
  • There is no such thing as work-from-home jobs involving receiving, then sending back money, or receiving items and re-mailing them.
  • Do not accept overpayment for an item or service. The scammer will overpay then ask for the difference back. Their check will ultimately bounce.
  • Do not use Craigslist or non-official real estate sources to locate rental property.

Anyone who has suffered a loss as a result of a scam is encouraged to contact their local law enforcement agency.