Sheriff’s office warns of increasing phone scams

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POUGHKEEPSIE – The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office is warning residents about scams that once again seem to be on the rise.

Scams are ways in which criminals will attempt to get money from people by contacting them and making up elaborate stories. In some cases, the perpetrators have tried, sometimes successfully, to use the victim’s emotions about a loved one in trouble to get money. It’s common for the perpetrators of these scams to try to get money by telling people that one of their relatives has been seriously hurt or is in jail, and that they need money right away. In many cases they will pose as a law enforcement official or another relative to try and convince the victim that it’s legitimate.

The latest scam involves the perpetrators posing as representatives of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office. To make the scam seem legitimate the perpetrators somehow duplicate the sheriff’s office main number of 845-486-3800, and then identify themselves as “Sgt. Diaz” or another sergeant before asking suspicious questions. These calls are scams designed to illicit money or information from the victim, and if you receive one, hang up immediately and call the sheriff’s office to report it.

The sheriff’s office would like to offer the following tips to help people avoid these scams:

  • Legitimate law enforcement would not attempt to satisfy a warrant or make promises to avoid prosecution by soliciting money.
  • If you receive an email about an order you didn’t place or asking you to send money call the company using a legitimate number. Do not follow the instructions in the email, click on any links in the email, or call the number provided in the email.
  • If someone asks you to purchase merchandise, transfer money, provide bank information, or enter a code given to you by them use caution as it is likely a scam.
  • Do not meet up with someone that you don’t know; if you’re asked to do this it is surely a scam, and it is very dangerous as well.
  • If you’re contacted by someone you don’t know asking for money, for any reason, that’s a signal that it’s most likely a scam.
  • If someone calls you and tells you that a relative has been hurt or is in jail, confirm it first before sending any money. Call other relatives or a legitimate law enforcement agency for confirmation before any money is sent. If they’re posing as a relative, try and contact that relative for confirmation.
  • Sending money overseas is especially risky; use extreme caution.
  • Ask the person for their call back number and ask to speak to their supervisor to confirm the info; if it’s a scam they will most likely hang up at this point and the number they give you will be bogus.
  • If the person is telling you that a loved one is in the hospital or jail, find out which one and contact the institution yourself to confirm.
  • If a loved one has recently passed away be wary; in some cases perpetrators have even preyed on victims by searching through the obituaries and calling surviving loved ones. If you get calls from people you don’t know soon after someone passes away, be careful and confirm it before you send any money.
  • In some cases, someone will call and tell the victim that they’ve won money, but to “process the claim” they need to first send money. Beware this is most definitely a scam and don’t send any money – you should never have to pay money to claim a prize. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is.
  • If there’s any doubt about a phone call or email you’ve received contact the sheriff’s office before sending any money.
  • Scams tend to increase during the holiday season, be especially alert for them during those times.