[November 21, 2013, Bel Air, MD] — Harford County Sheriff’s deputies are alerting the public to scams which have been taking place in neighboring counties hoping to prevent residents in Harford County from becoming victims.
Detective Sgt. Dawn Wolf, Supervisor of the Crimes Against Property Unit, explained police in neighboring counties have been investigating scams involving suspects who pose as utility workers.
“In some cases thieves use fake uniforms and identification cards to gain a victim’s trust”, Wolf said. Known as distraction scams, Wolf explained, the suspect will manipulate victims away from the main area of the home while a second suspect enters the home stealing cash, jewelry and other items of value. “Although not necessarily known for violence the scam artists have been known to use intimidation towards people when victims become suspicious of their actions”, the detective explained.
Wolf further explained that Sheriff’s deputies have investigated several such scams in Harford County earlier this year.
“To date no arrests have been made”, she said, noting however that after published news releases and increased citizen awareness the scams stopped. “We want to be proactive and alert the public to what is occurring in neighboring jurisdictions”, she said, adding, “Our hope is with an increased level of awareness people will be more cognizant of these scams and less likely to be victimized”.
Wolf also explained there are other scams prevalent during the holidays and citizens should be aware of these too. A frequent scam seen she explained involves callers who tell people a family member has been involved in a car crash, arrested, being held for ransom or another similar ruse. The caller states the family member needs money sent to them right away and demands that cash be wired to a specific address.
“Suspects are quite adept at manipulating a person and prey on their emotions and vulnerabilities,” Wolf said. She further explained, people are quick to believe something has occurred and act without thinking when all they need to do is slow the process down and think through what the caller is saying. “A call to the affected family member will quickly defuse the ruse,” Wolf said. “These scams bilk people out of hundreds if not thousands of dollars”, Wolf said. “We simply want people to be safe and secure in their homes and are hopeful people will take steps to heed our message of awareness and protect themselves from becoming victimized,” she concluded.
Wolf recommends the following crime prevention tactics:
–Always be vigilant to what is occurring in your neighborhood.
–Report all suspicious circumstances to police
–Residents will know if there is a utility problem in the area.
–When in doubt call the utility company and verify if they are working in your community.
–Do not let anyone in your home without verifying their identity.
–If you receive an unusual phone call, think through what they are telling you. In cases of injury, or motor vehicle crashes, or cases involving Federal authorities, ask for their name and then call local police or Federal authorities to verify what they are telling you.
–Remember to think before you act.
–Remember that if what they tell you is too good to be true – it usually is.
As always, be vigilant, and report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement. Visit our website at www.harfordsheriff.org for more information on these and other scams.