Emery County residents are being scammed and falling for illegal scams which could get them into some serious financial hot water.
One Emery County business is being scammed by someone who made a copy of one of their checks with their account number on it. The scammers send out information to people on the internet naming them as sweepstakes winners with the money scheduled to come out of the business account of the Emery County business. When the business owner received a phone call from someone who thought they had won a sweepstakes, the owner called the Emery County Sheriff's Office to investigate. The scam was caught early enough that no actual funds came out of the account. The business owner has had to change account numbers and close the account which was compromised.
Emery County Sheriff Lamar Guymon said, "This new case makes it increasingly important for people to safeguard their bank accounts and credit cards. Thoroughly go over each statement to look for unfamiliar charges on bank statements and credit card statements. Be extremely careful in giving out any financial information over the phone or internet. People are also receiving emails which state that some of your personal information has been lost and you must enter it into the system again. Do not fall for any of these types of scams."
Sgt. Mitch Vetere of the Emery County Sheriff's Office, along with other county residents, was faced with an internet scam artist. Sgt. Vetere had placed a motorcycle for sale on a website. He received an offer to buy the motorcycle that sounded "too good to be true." That old adage alerted him to the possible scam.
The scenario is that an out of country buyer wants whatever item that a person has listed for sale on a website. The potential buyer emails the seller that he wants the item and does not even quibble over the price, he only wants to know your address so he can send you a certified check.
People automatically think that a certified check is trustworthy, so they give the information asked for. When the check arrives, it is for many thousands more than the asking price of the merchandise. The buyer informs the seller that the remaining money is to be wired to a shipping agent in yet another country. Sounds easy, and the seller has his money.
In Sgt. Vetere's case, he called an FBI agent in Monticello just for some information and to ask about this deal that sounded just too good to be true. The agent informed Sgt. Vetere that the certified check is most likely a forgery. Many people around the country have reported getting the same kind of responses from buyers outside the US. The checks have all been forgeries and if the seller has cashed the check, they have been left responsible for not only the asking price of the item, but the remainder that they wired to the "shipping agent."
Most of the emails are coming out of Nigeria. The US does not have an extradition treaty with that country, so the US agents have their hands tied as to what can be done to the perpetrators of this scam.
In Ralph Bluemel's case, the buyer telephoned and was very accommodating and friendly. In an hour long conversation, the buyer did not ask one question concerning the truck for sale on the website. This was Bluemel's red flag. He called the FBI in Provo and was given the same answers that Sgt. Vetere had received from Monticello.
In each case, the sellers of the items listed on websites have been made aware of the scam by the FBI and the only thing lost was a buyer for the item. Both men were informed that many people around the US have lost substantial amounts of money. Bluemel was told by the agent he spoke to that some had lost as much as $200,000 and as little as $5,000.
Sgt. Vetere stressed, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Both Emery County residents urge all citizens to beware and investigate any business transaction before getting involved.
Offers also come in the form of someone looking for someone to assist them in bringing their inheritance money to America. When they request your bank and personal information, the scam artist now gains access into stealing from you, instead of contributing to your bank account.
Sheriff Guymon said these scams are on the rise and there are new cases surfacing in Emery County each week. "People are too trusting and take people at face value. They can't continue to be stupid in these matters or they will get into some serious financial trouble. A county couple currently cashed a counterfeit money order at a local credit union and they are now responsible for making sure these funds are recouped by the credit union. We need to be aware that all these claims people make over the email are fraudulent; they don't need your help to spend their money. They don't have any money and they want your money. Don't be duped into these get rich quick schemes, they are too good to be true and you will end up in serious financial trouble," said Guymon.