Residents reminded to be on the alert for scams

Date: January 11, 2018

Ferguson Township Police encourage residents to be aware of scams. Attempts to scam people out of their money are made throughout the year.

There are numerous scam variations that involve the phrase, “Accidentally sent too much money.” If you as a consumer hear that phrase, immediately be suspicious about the transaction.
Home or Apartment
In this scam, the con artist pretending to be a landlord will list a home or apartment at an unbelievably great price, featuring photos of an ideal place with the desired amenities. Dozens of people will respond to the ad and most will want to snatch it up before it’s gone.  In fact, the scammer will collect deposits, first and last month’s rent, and other fees from anyone who’s interested.  The problem comes when the renters try to move in and discover it was never the scammer’s to rent in the first place.

Not all scams target renters. They target landlords too. The typical scam asks a person agreeing to rent a house or apartment to send the landlord a check or money order for the deposits, rent, and fees. After the check is sent, however, the scammer claims to have “accidentally” sent too much and tells the landlord that the overpayment has created a financial bind. The scammer asks the excess money to be wired back immediately. What the landlord may not realize, however, is that the check or money order is no good. Whatever money is wired to the scammer will be their own money, never to be seen again.

Don’t allow anyone to overpay you. If someone does, don’t release any funds until the check or money order has cleared your account. Some thieves can produce fake checks and money orders so believable they can even fool banks until the check bounces back weeks later. If this happens, you’ll be responsible for any money you’ve used against the funds and, in some instances, you may even be held criminally responsible. They will likely pressure you to wire money beforehand to “pay them back,” but don’t give in unless you’re sure there’s no chance of the original check bouncing.

Law Enforcement
In this scam, the suspect claims to be a representative of a law enforcement agency, pretending there is an arrest warrant and threatening the victim with incarceration if a fine is not paid. The suspect directs the victim to use a Green Dot MoneyPak or Apple iTune Card to pay the fine. Typically, the suspects will “spoof” their own phone number so that the victim's caller ID will display 9-1-1 or another law enforcement agency phone number.
To help combat phone scams, do not provide information over the phone to anyone you do not know.  If you receive a similar call, ask the caller to provide specific information about the judicial district, judge’s name and citation number / case number.  If the caller provides the information, you can verify or discount the claim by contacting the appropriate Magisterial District Court directly.  Additionally, you can contact your local police department for verification.

The Federal Trade Commission offers 10 ways to avoid fraud. Learn more about this link.

  • Spot imposters.
  • Do online searches.
  • Don’t believe your caller ID.
  • Don’t pay upfront for a promise.
  • Consider how you pay.
  • Talk to someone you trust before taking any action.
  • Hang up on robocalls.
  • Be skeptical about free trial offers (or “you won a prize” pronouncements).
  • Don’t deposit a check and wire money back.
  • Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC.