Over the last week several business in the Wenatchee area have been victims of an intricate phone scam. Investigations revealed that a caller will contact the business and ask for the manager’s name and then ask to speak with them. Once they have the manager on the phone they will then ask for the owner’s name. Hours or days later they call back claiming to be a “Detective” or “Investigator”. The scammer then uses those names and weaves a convincing story about the employee’s supervisor(s) being involved in some kind of criminal activity – specifically money laundering in at least two cases. They then request the employee’s assistance. As part of the “investigation” they have the employee empty out the cash drawer and/or safe and go to the nearest Target or Walmart and buy Visa gift cards. Once the cards are in hand and the employee has read off the card numbers, the scammer has the employee go to a location to wait for contact which never comes. The truth is that once the employee has provided those numbers the money on the cards is gone.
Scams are common year-round and affect every part of life. No one is immune and scammers try to trick you out of your personal information and money. It is important to use a healthy bit of skepticism when dealing with people over the phone especially when you do not initiate the phone call.
A few things to think about when a call sounds fishy:
1. No official or group will request payment via Visa gift cards, iTunes cards, or other similar methods.
2. Have the caller provide a number for you to call back along with their business name. If the number does not match caller ID for the call you answered in the first place, there is something wrong.
3. Never provide your Driver’s License number, Social Security Number, account number, or any password over the phone unless you initiated the call to someone to whom you would normally provide this information.
4. Double check the contact information provided online when possible. A quick search online for a provided call back number may alert you that it has been used to scam others.
For a description of common scams please check out the following website: www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds. This website also provides resources on reporting scams and fraud. If you are the victim of a scam, please report it through Rivercom at (509) 663-9911.