Recently, some Morongo Basin residents were called by people pretending to be employees of Southern California Edison. The callers said the residents had outstanding bills, and demanded the customers make payments with prepaid cards over the telephone. Hilary Sloane offers these tips on how to avoid being a victim of these types of scams…
Imposters claiming to be from SoCal Edison are calling businesses and residents and telling them their electric bills are overdue. The caller demands immediate payment through a prepaid cash or debit card to avoid having their electricity disconnected. The scammers then collect the value deposited on the card. A Southern California Edison spokeswoman said SCE employees will never ask for payment over the phone or in person at a customer’s business or residence, nor does SoCal Edison accept PayPal payments. Customers should never give out personal information over the telephone. Do not call back the number given to you; use the phone number on your electric bill instead. Customers suspecting a fraudulent call should ask for the caller’s name, department, and business phone number, and then they should call SCE at 800-655-4555 to report the incident. For more ways customers can stay safe, see the safety tips at www.sce.com.
Two Twentynine Palms residents were swindled out of $800 by scam artists who were pretending to be Morongo Basin Sheriff’s deputies. The Sheriff’s Department says a 51-year-old woman, and a 70-year-old man from the 5600 block of Mariposa Avenue said that they received a phone call from a man who was able to mask his Caller ID to show he was calling from the Sheriff’s Department. The man said the woman had a warrant out for her arrest, but she could recall the warrant by paying $800 in gift cards. The woman bought the gift cards and gave the card numbers to the suspect. Deputies remind residents that neither the Sheriff’s Department, nor any other government agency will ever contact residents by phone to pay off arrest warrants, fines, fees, or any other funds with gift cards. Managing editor Tami Roleff has more information about how to avoid falling prey to these scams…
Neither the Sheriff’s Department nor other government agencies will solicit residents with the above-mentioned tactics in order to collect money. Members of law enforcement agencies do not accept payment for outstanding warrants and do not enforce delinquencies for other government agencies, such as the IRS or Social Security Administration. If you receive one of these calls, please do not give out any personal information, do not wire any money, and do not provide payment in the form of gift cards. Deputies urge residents to share information to prevent others from falling victim to these scammers. If you have fallen victim to a similar scam or have any information related to this investigation, please contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Morongo Basin Station at (760) 366-4175.
The County Auditor-Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector is warning taxpayers of a mail scam that aims to con payments from victims. The fraudulent notice arrives by U.S. mail or email and is entitled “Notice of Outstanding Taxes and Intent to Levy Social Security Benefits.” If you receive this notice, do not respond in any way. Taxpayers should keep the following information in mind to help protect themselves against fraud: The Tax Collector’s Office will communicate with taxpayers directly about any outstanding property taxes; it does not use outside agencies to collect money owed. The Internal Revenue Service and Franchise Tax Board have similar processes of communicating. The Tax Collector’s Office notifies taxpayers in advance of its intent to file a tax lien, it does not levy against social security funds ever. Anyone victimized by this scam is encouraged to report the crime to local law enforcement and the FBI.
A Twentynine Palms woman fell victim to a fake check scam. She was selling a coffee table online when the scammer “bought” it and sent her a check for more than $1500 over the cost of the table. The victim was told to cash the check, and wire the remaining funds to another person who would arrange for “movers” to send the table to New York. Needless to say, the transaction was a scam and the Twentynine Palms resident is out a lot of money. Ernest Figueroa offers these tips on how to avoid falling victim to a scam like this…
The scams typically involve sending victims a check, asking them to deposit it, and then when cleared, asking them to immediately wire the money to a third party. Don’t accept a check for more than the selling price. You can bet it’s a scam.
Never use money from a check to send gift cards or money orders, and never wire money to strangers or someone you just met. Many scammers demand that you send money through money transfer services like Western Union or MoneyGram, or buy gift cards and send them the PIN numbers. Once you wire money, or give someone the gift card PINs, it is like giving someone cash. It’s almost impossible to get it back.
Rental scams have struck lately, and reporter Joshua King will present some tips on how to spot and avoid these scams…
You want to rent a new property but are wary of being scammed. Here are 7 red flags to look for in a rental scam.
Number 1: They do not want to meet you in person.
Number 2: They want you to move in immediately, without viewing the property.
Number 3: They ask for rent or a security deposit before signing a lease.
Number 4: The price is too good, meaning the price doesn’t match the market value of similar properties.
Number 5: The listing has typos, poor grammar, and lack of punctuation.
Number 6: There is no screening process, meaning no credit check or application.
Number 7: They want you to sign an incomplete lease.
If you feel that a listing may be a scam, request to meet the landlord or see the property in person. If you believe you are a victim of a scam, contact local authorities.