HONESDALE – Area residents continue to report to the authorities about being targeted by scammers.
“We get people calling all the time,” Honesdale Chief Rick Southerton said Monday.
He noted that, fortunately, no one who called his department actually turned over money to the perpetrators.
One of the latest schemes consists of scammers posing as IRS officials calling potential victims and saying there is a claim against them.
In some cases, a computerized message tells potential victims there is a claim against them and they need to call a particular phone number.
“The problem is that people assume the worst and think if they don't respond … the IRS will be knocking down your door,” borough police say.
“The IRS themselves will tell you that you might get a call, but the vast majority of the time a letter is sent to you.”
Another scam consists of residents receiving a check via mail and being asked to cash it.
In return they are told they will receive a portion for their “troubles.”
“The problem is that the check or money order is usually made out to a small amount, under $3,000, so the bank doesn't readily examine it, and that is usually a fake,” police said.
“Once you cash it and send away the money, you are liable for that money and you have to pay it back to the bank.”
Police recommend anyone contacted in such a way should examine the check to see from where it is coming.
It could contain an address for the bank but other addresses, company names or marks that are inconsistent with normal checks.
Most importantly, police say, if an offer looks to good to be true, it probably is.
When in doubt residents can either directly contact the IRS or go online and look at helpful websites set up by the government and consumer watchdog groups.
“If you receive a letter with a check, an email asking for help because (someone) is being held against their will, or an email promising you a fortune, take a moment to examine what is written,” police said.
Telltale signs of fraud include, police said:
• Poor grammar since most letters are sent from foreign countries not familiar with the English language
• Letters likely won't include the dollar sign, or it will be placed after, not before, the amount
• The British pound symbol is often used
• Almost all scammers use Western Union to send money because there is no security on the receiving end.
“Keep in mind the persons creating the scams play on human emotions,” police said.