Sheriff’s department warns of scam

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Sheriff’s Office on Monday issued a warning about a phone scam.

At least two separate reports were made to the department, including from a victim who in an attempt to help someone they thought was a relative lost a few thousand dollars before they realized what happened, the department said.

Phone scams are common and the caller will identify themselves from a recognizable agency such as the IRS, FBI or Drug Enforcement Agency, a local law enforcement agency, court or law firm, a clearing house or lottery or a member of the family such as a child or grandchild, the department said.

Scammers explain why they are calling including for taxes owed, court costs or fines, for a warrant or missing jury duty, being sued, winning a lottery or being the beneficiary of a will or someone is in trouble and needs help. The scammers will claim bank accounts, home or vehicles are being seized, law enforcement is on the way to make an arrest, you are being sued, have inherited or have won millions of dollars or a child or grandchild has been arrested and needs money to post bond.

“All of this is done to elicit an emotional response; they want you scared, worried or excited because the more emotional and stressed you are the less rational you will be thinking,” the department said. “Like having tunnel vision they want you focused in on the problem because they will then offer you a solution.”

Money is the solution and the scammers have two primary methods of obtaining money, including by a loadable debit or gift card that can be purchased at most retail or grocery stores. After purchasing the card, the scammers will ask for the number of the card over the phone. When they have the number the money is theirs. The other method is by use of a wire transfer service and send a money order by wire transfer, the department said.