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Scam calls: A growing problem with law enforcement lacking ways to help get money back

Scam calls: A growing problem with law enforcement lacking ways to help get money back


Winona County Sheriff Ron Ganrude received a call recently from the supposed Social Security Administration saying that his Social Security number was compromised.

He knew soon into the call that it was not legitimate, especially when the caller asked for his name and personal information. When he wasn’t willing to provide it, he was informed they would have to call and report to local law enforcement.

When he revealed that he was the sheriff, the phone call ended. He, along with his chief deputy, received multiple calls from the number the same day to their work cell phones.

This call is an example of one of the many scam calls that people often report.

Often these types of calls are attempts to gain money, with a common example of one being a check sent to a person to be deposited. The person is often then supposed to send a portion of the money somewhere, while the person is then able to keep whatever amount of the check is left. When the check is deposited, it is later revealed to have been fake, likely after the money is sent.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it is,” Winona Police Deputy Chief Tom Williams said.

Ganrude and Williams say a key to avoiding being scammed is to not give out any personal information over the phone. The caller should especially not have to ask for the receiver’s name, as in the case of the call Ganrude received.

If any claims are made by the caller, make sure to check out everything before revealing any information. For example, if a caller claims that someone is in custody, don’t panic and try to contact the person before taking any action.

Also, a test of legitimacy is to call back the number.

People are often advised to contact their local law enforcement if a scam occurs, along with those agencies or people that the calls are attempting to impersonate.

However, it’s not an easy route to justice for those that fall victim to scams, with most scam reports not ending in people getting their money back.

An inability to track scammers is a common issue with attempting to find solutions to crimes like these. Callers are able to use spoof numbers and 800 numbers, which lead to an inability to call back. Also, if through the internet, IP addresses can easily be disguised.

In addition, local law enforcement often faces an issue of jurisdiction when it comes to trying to handle reports of scams. Often these calls are not coming from anyone in the area, sometimes even being based in other countries. Normally, the federal government will only step in if large amounts of money are involved.

When attempting to report to an agency like the Social Security Administration, trouble might arise based on the process that is in place for fraud cases. This also lowers the chances of the fraud case resulting in money being returned.


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