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Money Services “angel” prevents fraud scam

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Money Services has helped prevent a customer from becoming another of the 15.4 million yearly fraud victims in the US.

Fraud is on the rise - in 2020, people reported losing more than $3.3 billion to fraud - an increase of nearly $1.5 billion over 2019. Whether it's through your cell phone or other kinds of media, scammers are constantly discovering new ways to steal your money.

By telephone is the top method of contact, as it accounts for 31% of all contact methods used by fraudsters. The targeted activities vary widely, however, it was found that younger victims fall to scams more frequently, while older victims lose more money when being scammed.

Over 498,000 imposter scams were reported to Sentinel, in which twenty-two percent of those reported a Dollar loss, totalling nearly $1.2 billion lost to imposter scams in 2020.

At Money Services, our store associates are always on the lookout for potential con artists, scammers and fraudsters. They will be on hand to offer advice on everything from suspicious activity to how to complete a transaction or ways to save money.

Recently, one of our Omaha team members not only spotted one, but was also able to help a customer who had been targeted by the fraudster.

What happened?

The customer – who has chosen to remain un-named – was called by someone claiming to be a Sheriff’s deputy. They told her she would be arrested for missing jury duty unless she paid a fine of $5,000.

She headed to her nearest Money Services at Baker’s, and asked manager Dave Dadura to help her load the cash onto a pre-paid card to pay the fine.

Dave realized right away that the so-called fine was fake. A few simple questions from him helped him to establish the customer had been targeted for fraud. He reassured her that she shouldn’t send the pre-paid card code on, as he believed it was a scam.

The Sheriff’s Office confirmed the scam to WOWT local news, saying that they would never call demanding money over the phone – no matter what the reason.

The customer was very thankful to the Money Services manager, who she described as “her angel,” adding: “He saved me $5,000 which I literally, literally had in my hand.”

What is fake fine fraud?

Fake fine fraud is a type of fraud where the victim is urged to pay money as a penalty for something they have apparently done wrong.

In the case of our Omaha customer, it was missing jury duty. But it can also be posed as a fine for failure to pay a speeding ticket, an overdue cable bill or any other kind of payment.

Victims of fake fine fraud are often pressured into paying money by being told that they face arrest or jail time if they don’t pay or if there’s a delay.

Potential victims can be approached in a variety of ways. This could be:

  • Via email. Scam emails can look just like the real thing, so be careful what you’re clicking.
  • On the phone. The victim receives a call from someone claiming they need to pay a fine.
  • In person. Debt collectors and bailiffs could appear at your door asking for money.

How to prevent fake fine fraud

You may have been contacted by someone about sending money but aren’t sure if the reasons are genuine. If you’re concerned it could be a case of fake fine fraud, there are a few things to ask yourself.

  • Who asked for the money? Official public bodies don’t usually make cash demands on the phone or over email.
  • Who contacted you? Phone numbers can be cloned and emails faked to get illicit payments. Double check if in doubt.
  • How did they ask for payment? Pre-paid cards are used for more secure payments – don’t give the number of the card to someone you don’t trust.

If someone has been in contact by email, phone or in person, here’s what you can do to tackle attempted fraud.

  • By phone: Find an alternative number online for the people who called and ask them about your fine.
  • Email: Check the wording of the email and address it came from – there could be clues in there as to whether or not the email is genuine.
  • In person: Ask to see some ID. It’s also worth looking up a different phone number for the company and calling them yourself to check if the person at your door is genuine.

If you have any questions or concerns about making a money transfer, our in-store Money Services associates will be happy to help. Our definitive guide to fraud reveals how to identify different types of fraud, and how to protect yourself against it.

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