(September 25, 2018)-  The Cape Coral Police Department is receiving more reports of “scams” and we would like you to be aware to hopefully not fall victim.

These scams will try to trick you out of money or get access to your personal information. You may think that it will never happen to you but some of these are fairly convincing. Most scams will be through phone calls by real people, robocalls, or even text messages. These callers often make it sound as if they are giving you the chance of a lifetime and make false promises. They could be offering you to buy products at a great deal off the suggested price, trying to convince you to invest your money, or offering you money. Some scammers may call with threats of jail or lawsuits if you don’t pay them.

One scam is preying on those that are financially vulnerable. These are victims that are financially distressed or are not financially savvy which can fall victim for a quick few dollars.

A person may call, text, send you something in the mail, or even email giving you the opportunity to make some extra cash. 

On some of these scams, the real push to get a person to trust the caller that this isn’t “just another scam” is that they send a check or money order. They tell you to deposit it into your account and then to purchase gift cards minus a pre-determined amount from the check that you get to keep just for doing the leg work. These gift cards can range from iTunes, Google, Amazon, etc. Once the person purchases the cards they may ask you to scratch off the back and take a picture of the numbers or text / call them with the numbers. Unfortunately, the check and/or money orders are fake and your bank deducts the amount from whatever you previously had along with some banks charging for the “bounced” check fee.

These counterfeit checks can be used in several different scams to include fake loans, work-at-home schemes, and the lottery. The company checks and company itself that the scammer is representing are usually real businesses that s/he is not affiliated with. Just because the caller says they are with Apple, you receive a check that has an Apple logo on it doesn’t necessarily mean it is from Apple. 

Another way these scammers will send money is through an electronic deposit directly into your account. The person will ask for your bank account information so that s/he can deposit the check into your account so they can do further business. DO NOT give out your banking information. This is like handing someone the keys to your car, they will have full access!

A big point to remember is that time is on your side. These scammers will want you to act fast because a check can take a few days to clear and they want you to do all their business before that happens. Just because the check initially shows has cleared doesn’t necessarily mean the check wasn’t fake. Most banks will clear the check and then a few days later it was found to be counterfeit. Guess who will be held responsible for the bad check in your account…..yes, you guessed it, YOU! 

“But they called from a real number associated with the business they work for”. Don’t always trust the telephone number you see on your Caller ID. There are applications out there where the caller can make it look like they are calling from a legitimate telephone number. These fake caller apps allow the user to make your caller ID see the number they want you to see. This is useful to the potential scammer when the person they call looks the number up on the internet and finds it is from a valid business. 

Some of the victims have lost thousands of dollars. Before anyone goes victim shaming, some of these scams are pretty believable. Victim’s can look up the business name on the check, the address on the check, the phone number given, and it can all come back as valid and verified on the internet. When in doubt, call the business directly and not from the number on the check or the one they gave you.

Pictured below is just one correspondence that a victim received along with a check….yes, the check was counterfeit.


Here are some DON’Ts from USA.gov:

Don’t

  • Don’t give in to pressure to take immediate action.

  • Don’t say anything if a caller starts the call asking, “Can you hear me?” This is a common tactic for scammers to record you saying “yes.” Scammers record your “yes” response to use as proof that you agreed to a purchase or credit card charge.

  • Don’t provide your credit card number, bank account information, or other personal information to a caller.

  • Don’t send money if the caller tells you to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.

  • Don’t be fooled by the appearance of checks or money orders. Scammers can make them look legitimate and official.

  • Don’t deposit checks or money orders from strangers or companies you don’t have a relationship with.

  • Don’t wire money to people or companies you don’t know.

  • Don’t give your bank account number to someone who calls you, even for verification purposes.

  • Don’t click on links in email to verify your bank account.

  • Don’t accept a check that includes an overpayment.

  • Don’t give in to demands to pay money immediately. Be especially suspicious of demands to wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card.

  • Don’t trust the name or phone number on a caller ID display that shows “IRS.” Scammers often change the name that shows on caller ID.

  • Don’t click on any links in email or text messages to verify your information.

  • Don’t give in to high pressure tactics such as urging you to donate immediately.

  • Don’t assume that you can get a tax deduction for donating to an organization. Use the IRS’s database of 501(c)3 organizations to find out if it has this status.

  • Don’t send cash. Pay with a check or credit card.

  • Don’t wire transfer money to pay for tickets.  

  • Don’t trust sellers who want you to pay with a prepaid money card.

  • Don’t pay before seeing the tickets

  • Don’t meet an individual ticket seller alone or in a low-traffic area.

  • Don’t be fooled by online search results. The first ones at the top of the search may be paid ads for ticket services that charge excessive fees, rather than reputable sellers.

  • Don’t pay a fee, taxes, or shipping charges to receive a prize.

  • Don’t wire money to, or deposit a check from, any organization claiming to run a sweepstakes or lottery.

  • Don’t provide your credit card number, bank account information, or other personal information.

  • Don’t believe anyone who says they’re from the government or an official-sounding organization.

  • Don’t reply to, or click on any links in, a spam text message.

  • Don’t attend a sales meeting to be eligible to win a prize.

  • Don’t give in to pressure to take immediate action.

  • Don’t believe anyone claiming to be from a foreign lottery or sweepstakes. It’s illegal to enter foreign contests like these.

  • Don’t invest until you’ve verified that the business is legitimate.

  • Don’t get involved in businesses that require you to recruit new participants.

  • Don’t buy into franchises that guarantee big profits quickly.

  • Don’t invest in any “opportunity” bearing warning signs of a pyramid scheme.

  • Don’t reply to or click on any links in suspicious email, texts, and social media messages. Make sure to report anything suspicious to the IRS.

  • Don’t be pressured to invest immediately.

  • Don’t be influenced by promises that seem too good to be true, such as “guaranteed earnings” or “risk-free” investments

  • Don’t be swayed to invest in something because the investment professional is likable, seems trustworthy, or has credentials and professional titles.

  • Don’t feel pressured to invest because you were told that many other people with similar financial circumstances have invested.

  • Don’t feel obligated to invest because the professional gave you a free gift, lunch, reduced commission fees.

  • Don’t provide information if someone claiming to be a census worker asks for your full Social Security number, bank or credit card account numbers, or your mother’s maiden name. The Census Bureau does not ask for these.

  • Don’t put your money in investments that promise big returns with little to no risk.

  • Don’t contribute to any investment that isn’t registered with the SEC or with state regulators.

  • Don’t get financially involved with any unlicensed investment professional or unregistered firm.

  • Don’t give your bank account information to anyone you don’t know.

  • Don’t pay any money for a government grant. You can get Information about government grants for free at public libraries and online at Grants.gov. Government agencies don’t charge processing fees for grants they’ve awarded.

  • Don’t believe callers who claim they’re from an official-sounding government agency with news about a grant. Check out the name of the agency online or in the phone book—it may be fake.

  • Don’t assume a phone call is originating from the area code displayed on your caller ID. Some scam artists use technology to disguise their location and make it appear as if they’re calling from Washington, DC.

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CAPE CORAL POLICE DEPARTMENT | Public Affairs Office | 1100 Cultural Park Boulevard | Cape Coral, FL 33990 | (239) 242-3341