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Residents warned about scams, on and offline

We’ve used this space in the past to warn readers about scams making their way across the internet or hustles that use the telephone.

Today, we’re raising the alarm about one of each, fraudulent schemes that apparently have gained some degree of traction downstate and will in all likelihood, be visited upon Superiorland residents, if it already hasn’t happened.

The FBI is advising residents to be on the lookout for people posing as government representatives in unexpected telephone calls.

An agency press release details the caller typically advises the recipient that charges have been, or soon will be, filed against them, and threatens to confiscate the recipient’s property, freeze their bank accounts or have them arrested unless payment is made immediately.

If the recipient questions the caller, the caller becomes more aggressive.

The recipients are advised that it will cost thousands of dollars in fees or court costs to resolve the matter, and the caller typically instructs people to wire “settlement” money or provide payment via prepaid cards or gift cards to avoid arrest.

If you get a call like that, it’s hooey. Hang up and notify the police.

The online scam is much more complicated and involves matters of the heart. A scammer creates a fake online identity to gain trust from a victim in a close or romantic relationship and tries to steal from them, the FBI press release notes.

Here are a handful of guidelines that are useful in dealing with these scams:

≤ Be careful what you post and make public online. Scammers can use details shared on social media and dating sites to better understand and target you.

≤ Research the person’s photo and profile using online searches to see if the image, name or details have been used elsewhere.

≤ Go slowly and ask lots of questions.

≤ Beware if the individual seems too perfect or quickly asks you to leave a dating service or social media site to communicate directly.

≤ Beware if the individual attempts to isolate you from friends and family or requests inappropriate photos or financial information that could later be used to extort you.

≤ Beware if the individual promises to meet in person but then always comes up with an excuse why he or she can’t. If you haven’t met the person after a few months, for whatever reason, you have good reason to be suspicious.

≤ Never send money to anyone you have only communicated with online or by phone.

Be smart and use your head. If it doesn’t pass your common sense smell test, as Marcellus put it in “Hamlet,” something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

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