MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. — Trish Carter knows what it’s like to be involved in a financial scam. As a child, she briefly operated her own scam that monetarily benefited her and a friend. Carter, the public information officer at the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, would approach unsuspecting victims at a mall near her house and ask for 10 cents.
Both kids would say they needed to call their moms because they got a flat tire on their bicycle. Back in those days, pay telephones really existed and local calls were 10 cents.
“We knew who to approach, as women with children were easier targets than men,” said Carter, who now disseminates news from the Sheriff’s Office to the media. “In most cases, women were compassionate to kids, especially those who needed to call their moms for help.”
Carter said she and her friend would only hit up a few people each, as their goal was to collect 25 cents each for a two-scooper ice cream cone at the Thrifty’s store. Luckily, Carter said in a news release, she and her friend didn’t get greedier and continue with bigger scams.
But others have never learned that lesson. Nearly every day, Carter gets calls from Mohave County residents regarding scams. No doubt about it — scammers are impostors reaching out to people to financially gain from their loss.
Perhaps they’ve said they are a relative needing help, using the classic scam of being a grandchild in jail in another country or involved in an accident. Or maybe they’ve said you have won money or a car from a lottery, Publisher’s Clearing House, a bank or lawyer regarding inheritance.
The common factor in this scam is that money must be sent first in order to receive your money. Most recent scams involve you supposedly owing money for an overdue bill (utility company), bounced check, the IRS, property taxes, traffic ticket, jury duty or the courts for an arrest warrant.
Often, these scammers want money from you right now or, they say, they’ll shut off your electricity, issue a warrant or have a cop at your door to arrest you. These are pressure tactics and, at times, these callers will even threaten you.
Be cautious of secret shopper advertising, private party ads and contacts claiming to be from Windows (Microsoft Corporation).
Also be leery of door-to-door salespeople, technicians and repair people, especially if you haven’t called for service. Most importantly, be suspicious of scammers who want you to keep this arrangement a secret. These types of phone calls, emails and door-to-door activities can catch you off guard. Either hang up on the scammers or tell them you’ll get back with them at a later time, which allows you time to verify the information.
Always confirm the situation before sending or giving money. Call someone, perhaps the relative that needs help. Look up the phone number of the business that is supposedly calling you to confirm the situation, and don’t use the phone number they may have supplied you for confirmation. If you suspect fraud, contact your local law enforcement office.