Floyd County Sheriff Tim Burkhalter believes the landscape has changed so much for computer and telephone scammers that it is difficult to keep up with the scammers.
“Statistics will show us that within the next year, 50 percent of the phone calls you are going to get on your cellphone or your home line are going to be some kind of a scam call,” Burkhalter said.
John Upton, who joined the sheriff’s office to lead the fraud unit, said in times gone by 90% of the scammers targeted senior citizens because they typically had more readily available cash, but that nowadays, more and more millennials are targets because they are all carrying around cell phones.
Both Burkhalter and Upton stressed the use of common sense when it comes to dealing with scammers. Few, if any, Floyd County residents have had any dead relatives in Nigeria for example.
“You don’t win any contests that you don’t enter,” added Burkhalter.
One of the more recent scams involves calls threatening to lock folks up with an outstanding warrant if the recipient of the call doesn’t make a payment.
“If we ever pick up the phone and call and say we’ve got a warrant for your arrest, you think we’re ever going to get anybody like that?” Burkhalter asked. “If we’re ever coming for you, you’ll know it when we get there.”
John Upton, who retired from a previous post as head of the Georgia Highlands College Police, said it was actually pretty entertaining to see how creative some of the scammers are. He cited a healing scam where people seek money for some device that can heal all sort of ills.
“Go see your doctor or a priest,” Upton said.
Upton said that anything which costs you money to get money is going to be a scam. He also cautioned members of the Rome Exchange Club to never cash checks that come in the mail.
“They can print anything and make it look good nowadays,” Upton said.
Commenting on the proliferation of scam phone calls to cell phones, Upton explained the Do Not Call Registry is still available, “but it doesn’t work all that well anymore. Don’t trust what that Caller ID says.”
Upton even said that scammers are starting to text folks in a bid to get the recipient to call back and provide scammers an opportunity to download information from the victim’s phone.
Upton also said the number of alleged charity organizations really spikes in the aftermath of natural disasters.
“Don’t trust them unless you know exactly who they are and what they are,” Upton said.
“They are getting more and more sophisticated, therefore we have to be more diligent about learning about them,” Burkhalter concluded. “We developed this program and it’s ever evolving. We make a move and they counter.”