The Heber Springs Police Department has reported a rise in reports of criminals targeting area residents with phone scams in the past two weeks.
The Heber Springs Police Department has reported a rise in reports of criminals targeting area residents with phone scams in the past two weeks. Although phone scams have plagued residents here and around the state on a regular basis, the recent rise in reports has local authorities on alert.
According to Detective Brian Haile of the Heber Springs Police Department, at least three residents have been hit with the ‘grandparent scam” in the past 2 weeks, stealing over $3000 from their victims. In this particular scam, the criminal contacts the potential victim and poses as a grandchild that is facing an emergency. Often this “emergency” involves a situation where the “grandchild” is trapped, whether it is because of an accident, arrest, or some other situation that urgently requires money to get the “grandchild” out of the situation. The victim is then requested to purchase a prepaid card so the “grandchild” can receive the money as quickly as possible. Once the money is sent, it is almost impossible for law enforcement to recover that money for the victims.
Haile believes these scammers are cold calling residents in our area, so most of the requests will be rejected. There are some, however, who will fall victim to the scheme. These criminals are very good at making the situation seem dire and urgent and in such cases, the intense love for a grandchild may result in a lapse of judgment and precaution.
“If you get one of these calls, it’s always best to verify the situation with another family member first before doing anything,” said Haile. “If you have any doubts at all, contact law enforcement.”
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has been warning Arkansas residents of increases in these scams, especially involving prepaid cards. He offered the following advice:
· Never provide a prepaid card number to an unknown individual.
· Avoid offers requiring the sharing of a prepaid card number by telephone or email.
· Never email a prepaid card number directly to any merchant, and beware of websites that specifically ask for payment via prepaid money card.
· Be skeptical of using a prepaid card for any offer that requires payment before an item is received.
If you have been the victim or are concerned you may be a target of any of these scams, contact the Heber Springs Police Department at 501-362-8291 or the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office at 501-362-8143.