LUBBOCK, Texas — An investigator with the Lubbock County Sheriff’s office spoke with EverythingLubbock.com on Thursday to bring attention to the increased scam calls in Lubbock. They said LCSO gets up to 10 calls a day from people who were scammed and it’s only increasing with the holiday season.
When people are busy and distracted, they might be more susceptible to falling for a scam.
According to LCSO, scammers typically pretend to be law enforcement and convince people that they have a warrant out for their arrest for offenses such as missing jury duty or owing money to the IRS. The goal of the scammers is to get the person on the other line to pay money, most times through Bitcoin or store-bought gift cards.
A woman, who chose not to disclose her name for the sake of her safety, was surprised and afraid when she received a scam call.
“They just told me that I owe a lot of money to the IRS and they were gonna arrest me if I didn’t have the money to pay them,” the woman said. “I got real, real scared.”
She said the scammers led her to Walmart and told her to purchase two $500 dollar gift cards. They made her believe she was going to get arrested if she didn’t pay or if she hung up the phone.
According to Tex Recter, an investigator with LCSO, that’s exactly what they want people to believe.
“They use that fear against you, they’re trying to get you to make a rash decision in that moment,” Recter said.
The woman purchased the two gift cards and called LCSO soon after when her daughter explained that the call was most likely a scam – but it was too late. She had already lost her money.
Recter recommended hanging up even when the scammers say not to. If hanging up feels too uncomfortable, he said it could be good to have someone else call law enforcement. The bottom line, according to Recter, is that it’s crucial to call law enforcement to see if the call is real before giving away any money.
He also offered some signs to look out for to prove a call is a scam, even though the call might sound legitimate.
“The sheriff’s office is never going to call you and say ‘You have a warrant. You need to give us money over the phone to handle this.’ That’s just never going to happen,” Recter said.
He said the fake warrants that scammers typically show people usually have varying fonts or titles misspelled. Other signifiers to look out for are numbers or addresses on the warrant. If they’re not from the area, that’s all the more reason to believe it’s not real.
The woman who was scammed out of $1,000 will not be able to get her money back since it was paid through gift cards, however, she and LCSO hope to raise awareness to scammers so others don’t have to endure the same fate.
“I don’t want anybody else to go through what I did,” the woman said.
LCSO recommended checking on friends and family members to make sure they’re aware of scammers. They also warn against giving out any personal information, like a social security number, to someone who calls. If a scammer does call and take money, LCSO said to call local law enforcement as soon as possible so they can try to help before things get worse.