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If it seems like it’s too good to be true …

Sheriff warns of recent scammers targeting Lincoln County residents

JENNA-LEY HARRISON
Staff Writer
Scammers are at it again, preying on Lincoln County residents over the last month, asking them to send significant amounts of money to third-party locations, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Fraudulent individuals have particularly been using Craigslist to lure their prey, an agency press release said.
Scammers use FedEx to send fake checks between $1,000 and $3,000 to people who are selling items on the website and ask them to use MoneyGram or Western Union to mail any leftover money from the purchase to an address different from the one where they want the item to be sent.
Swindlers purposefully send much more money than the victims’ asking price in order to profit from the exchange, deputies said.
Even though the checks turn out to be fake, victims are responsible for paying the deposits back to the bank.
In addition to the Craigslist scam, deputies have received reports of at least two other types of area shams.
Various local residents have told the Sheriff’s Office in recent weeks that they’ve received emails, phone calls or letters, claiming they’ve won the lottery and must sent money to cover the prize tax, the release said.
Deputies warned community members that no authentic contest would unexpectedly notify someone that he or she is the recipient of a surreal amount of money.
“Don’t be overly trusting to anyone,” Sheriff David Carpenter noted in the release.
He also warned people to never conduct financial transactions by phone or mail, unless the source is legitimate.
A third kind of scam targeted a Lincoln County woman who signed up online last year to be a secret shopper, deputies said.
At the end of January, she received a letter containing a nearly $4,000 check. The letter instructed she cash the check, upload $3,000 of it onto pre-paid Green Dot cards and keep the rest, deputies said.
However, she was also told to scratch off the cards’ silver sections, where each revealed a specific number, and relay the digits to someone at the end of a random phone line — a number listed in the letter, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The woman contacted deputies once she became suspicious of the whole ordeal. While she was able to secure the package containing the letter and pre-paid cards from her local post office before it shipped out, and hand it over to Sheriff’s Det. John Propst, the money on the pre-paid cards had already been deducted from her account — money that the bank told her she would have to repay if the check bounced, the release said.
Numerous scams are taking place throughout the world today, and Carpenter reminded residents that nothing comes free.
“Remember folks … some people are out here to take everything that they can from you or your family,” he said.
Scams may be reported to either the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office at (704) 732-9050 or the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM. Individuals may also file complaints at ncdoj.gov.

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