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Beware: Scammers are on the prowl

Published on March 19, 2021

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The Huntsville Police Department has received an influx of calls in recent weeks from concerned citizens who were scammed or almost scammed.

Scammers are calling individuals and impersonating government agencies, prize/sweepstakes organizations and vehicle warranty offices. During these calls, they ask an individual to buy a prepaid gift card or a gift card to a big box store. The scammer will explain it will pay a fine, taxes or sometimes promise more money or a car in return.

Oftentimes, senior citizens are more prone to fall victims to these scams, but anyone can be scammed.

“They don’t discriminate on who they call,” explained Cyber and Financial Crimes Unit Sgt. Joe Kennington. Elderly people are falling victim more often, however, in the past week a 21- and 29-year-old have both fallen victim to these scams.”

Investigators have noticed these scammers can be very aggressive and get angry if you put them on hold, try to hang-up or ask them to verify their identity.

“Just because someone calls you and addresses you by your first and last name, knows your social security number, or your date of birth does not mean they are an official agency or organization representative,” Kennington said. “They can easily find your information online or using public databases.”

Huntsville Police recommend if anyone is asking for money or your personal information to disconnect the call. After disconnecting, you can research the agency or organization to find a call-back number. Never call back the phone number a possible scammer gives you.

“It’s up to each of us to educate our aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents to make sure that these scammers don’t take their money,” Sgt. Kennington said.

Scammers often ask for gift cards because they do not carry the same legal protections as credit or debit cards and can’t be tracked easily.

“If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is,” Chief Mark McMurray explained. “No government agency or organization will ever ask for a fine to be paid using a prepaid gift card.”