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“Our citizens lose millions in hard earned money every year. Statistics show that both young and old are commonly victimized by sophisticated techniques emanating from call centers and “boiler rooms” all over the world aimed at cyber theft,” said Sheriff Baron. “Many times these persons are beyond the reach of our law enforcement apparatus. However, education on how to spot and identify these schemes will act not only to help Norfolk residents protect themselves but can deter such actions in the future.”

Common forms of consumer fraud include:

⦿ Grandparent scams wherein our elderly are told a loved one is in distress by someone posing as a law enforcement officer seeking to get access to bank information or outright cash. Beware of any request for funds on the phone or online. REQUESTS FROM LEGITIMATE SOURCES NEVER SEEK MONEY IN THIS MANNER.

⦿ Persons posing as IRS or Social Security officials asking for identifying information with threats that benefits will be withheld or that back taxes are owed. FEDERAL OFFICIALS NEVER ACT IN THIS WAY.

⦿ Gift card scams wherein payment is demanded for some fabricated debt or other issue in the form of an iTunes gift card or another prepaid card. NO LEGITIMATE COMPANY SEEKS PAYMENT USING THIS METHOD.

⦿ Lottery and Sweepstakes scams wherein you are asked to pay a fee in order to claim a prize from a fraudulent contest or sweepstakes. A potential victim may be asked to give money or banking information to cover “handling costs” or other fake costs. SUCH METHODS ARE NEVER USED IN REAL CONTESTS OR LOTTERIES.

⦿ Cable, Wireless Provider or Utilities provider scams. You are asked to give money immediately in order to prevent service cut-offs. MANY TIMES SCAMMERS WILL POSE AS DEPUTIES OR POLICE OFFICERS TO IMTIMIDATE. NEVER TRUST SUCH CALLS AND VERIFY WITH YOUR PROVIDER.

⦿ Magazine or other service sales. Magazine subscriptions or other recurring subscriptions of any kind will be renewed by a person who has no right or authority to do so. Threats and repeated phone calls have targeted elderly victims resulting in at least one indictment by Eastern District of Virginia United States Attorneys. NEVER RESPOND TO SUCH A THREAT, OR AN OFFER THAT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.

⦿ Pre-paid card providers that solicit money for such cards but never provide them. DO NOT SEND CASH UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

⦿ More sophisticated forms of fraud are constantly being developed. BE VIGILANT- IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD, IT IS TOO GOOD!