The Christiansburg Police Department has seen numerous scams over the past years. This page does not cover every scam, but it does list some of the common scams for our area. Remember, if you are ever asked to provide some sort of gift card or list the number off the back of a gift card, you are being scammed.
- Someone claiming to be with the IRS will call and tell you that you are behind on tax payments. They will advise that there will be an arrest warrant issued and you will be arrested by the local police if you do not call them back (if they left you a voicemail) or if you do not pay them over the phone immediately (if you have answered their call). These scammers will generally ask you to go to a store and get some sort of gift card such as iTunes, Green Dot, Visa, Google, etc. and call them back with the numbers off the back of the card.
- If you are trying to sell items through social media sites such as Craigslist or Facebook and you are contacted by someone who says they will be sending you a check in the mail, be very cautious. If they send a check that is over the amount you asked for the item and tell you they made a mistake when they wrote the check and ask you to please cash it and send the balance back to them, it is a scam. They may also tell you that the remainder is for a mover/shipper to get paid and that you should give them the money when they pick up the item. Again, most likely a scam and you will lose the money and your item. The checks are always fake or stolen. They may clear the bank at first because the numbers are correct but within a few days the check will be returned as fraudulent.
- If you are on a dating site or other social media platform and meet someone claiming to be a prince or princess stating they need money to flee their country, this is a scam.
- If you meet someone online and they are claiming they are working overseas and can’t get their paycheck while in a foreign country and want to know if they can have their paycheck put in your bank account, it is a scam. They will have money transferred into your account then ask you to get the same type of gift cards from above and give them the numbers off them. You are being used to launder money, as they are probably using your account information on other scams they are running on other people. The money being placed in your account is certainly not from gainful employment.
- If someone claiming to be from a law enforcement agency calls you and claims that you missed jury duty and the judge is issuing an arrest warrant for you unless you pay a fine over the phone, it is a scam. They will also generally ask you to pay with gift cards as mentioned in previous scams.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to be law enforcement or a prosecuting attorney and they say your child/grandchild has been involved in a wreck or other criminal activity and that you need to get gift cards or send them cash through the mail to avoid prosecution, it is a scam. They may even know your child/grandchild’s name.
- If you receive an email from someone claiming to be a hitman and that they have been contracted to kill you, it is a scam. They will tell you not to contact the police and that you have so many days or hours to pay them a large sum of money. Do not email them back or acknowledge it.
- If you get a phone call claiming that you have won some sort of lottery but they need you to pay the taxes on the winnings first, it's a scam. Do not send them money. You have not won anything. You probably have not even played whatever lottery they claim you won. They may even send you paperwork that looks, on face value, legitimate.
- Someone may call you claiming to be from the social security administration and tell you that your social security number has been involved in a multitude of criminal activity. They will then tell you your money needs to be moved out of your bank account to protect it. They will ask you to withdraw cash and send it to them so they can set up a new bank account for you. They may ask you to give them access to your account. They may even have your social security number that they can recite to you. Never confirm this information and do not send them money or let them access your bank account.
- If someone calls you and states you damaged their vehicle in a parking lot and you need to send them a gift card or money so that they won't contact law enforcement, it is a scam. They may even say you left a note on their vehicle stating you damaged their car.
These are just a few of the most common scams we in law enforcement have seen recently. They are ever changing and evolving. Just remember no government agency will take payment through gift cards nor would they ask you to mail them cash. Do not confirm your personal identifiers over the phone. You never know who is on the other side, no matter who they claim to be. If there are ever any questions about if a call or email you receive is a scam, please call the police department and let an officer help determine the validity of what the caller has told you. Please, please, please do not send the money or get gift cards first. Once your money is sent, whether it be through postal mail or a money gram service, it is almost impossible to recover. The gift cards, especially, are virtually impossible to recover.
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam in which your identity has been compromised, you can contact any of the three credit reporting agencies. Their contact numbers are:
- Equifax - 866-349-5191
- TransUnion - 800-916-8800
- Experian - 888-397-3742
If you think you have been a victim of a scam or identity theft, please visit this page for additional resources.