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Sheriff's Department Says Scams Continue In Northwoods


RHINELANDER, WI (WSAU) -- Complaints of telephone scams circulating in Oneida County have not slowed down in the last two years, according to officials with the Sheriff's Department.

Patrol Captain Tyler Young says no one scam is more popular than another right now, but no matter the tactics used the endgame is generally the same- the scammers are demanding payment by a gift card. Young says residents need to remain vigilant about anyone calling them and asking for money in ways other than by a traditional check, cash, or credit card payment. "Always be leery of anybody wanting payment by gift card," he says. "That is not the way traditional business is done. I know of no legitimate business that receives payment by a gift card."

Scams circulating the area include those claiming to be from WPS or other bill collectors, the IRS, and those claiming a family member has been arrested overseas and is in need of bond money. The good news is most retail stores that sell gift cards to various business have trained their clerks and cashiers to intervene if they notice someone purchasing an excessive amount of cards to businesses such as Amazon or iTunes. Additionally, those employees are receiving the same calls themselves so they will also speak up as a neighbor. Young says that adds another layer of security even if the individual has fallen for the scam. "They'll tell them to slow down, This may be a scam. You should probably hold off on buying these." Those questions can help keep someone from losing out on hundreds or thousands of dollars that can't be returned, especially in incidents where a victim turns payment over in the form of a gift card.

Young says once you turn those numbers over to the scammers on the other end of the line, it's nearly impossible to track or reclaim the money. "And I'm very confident that money is not being put to good use when it is sent overseas," adds Young. He encourages anyone receiving a suspicious or unsolicited phone call to hang up and call the business or person demanding the money directly.

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