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Sheriff’s Office warns of increasing scams

Published: 3/14/2024

For More Information Contact:

Captain John Watterson
845-486-3860                        

The Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office would like to take this opportunity to warn the residents of Dutchess County and surrounding areas about scams that once again seem to be on the rise.

Scams are ways in which criminals will attempt to get money from people by contacting them and making up elaborate stories. In some cases the perpetrators have tried, sometimes successfully, to use the victim’s emotions about a loved one in trouble to get money. It’s common for the perpetrators of these scams to try to get money by telling people that one of their relatives has been seriously hurt or is in jail, and that they need money right away. In many cases they will pose as a law enforcement official or another relative to try and convince the victim that it’s legitimate.

The latest scam involves the perpetrators asking victims to participate in a United States Postal Service (USPS) survey. The perpetrators mail the victims a fake, but official-looking letter from the USPS, which informs them that they’ve been chosen help provide better service by participating in the survey. The letter goes on to say that in order to do this they will need to cash a bank check that comes with the letter, then proceeds to give them step-by-step instructions on what to do with the money. At this time the Sheriff’s Office has one report of someone receiving this letter, and that person recognized it as a scam before cashing the check or giving any money. If anyone receives a letter like the one accompanying this release they are urged to not follow any of the instructions and contact the Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau at 845-486-3820.

The Sheriff’s Office would like to offer the following tips to help people avoid these scams:

  • If you receive correspondence from someone that you don’t know asking for money but instructing you to keep the matter confidential and not inform anyone about it, it’s most likely a scam.
  • Legitimate law enforcement would not attempt to satisfy a warrant or make promises to avoid prosecution by soliciting money.
  • If you receive an email about an order you didn’t place or asking you to send money call the company using a legitimate number. DO NOT follow the instructions in the email, click on any links in the email, or call the number provided in the email.
  • If someone asks you to purchase merchandise, transfer money, provide bank information, or enter a code given to you by them use caution as it is likely a scam.
  • Do not meet up with someone that you don’t know; if you’re asked to do this it is surely a scam, and it is very dangerous as well.
  • If you’re contacted by someone you don’t know asking for money, for any reason, that’s a signal that it’s most likely a scam.
  • If someone calls you and tells you that a relative has been hurt or is in jail, confirm it first before sending any money. Call other relatives or a legitimate law enforcement agency for confirmation before any money is sent. If they’re posing as a relative, try and contact that relative for confirmation.
  • Sending money overseas is especially risky; use extreme caution.
  • Ask the person for their call back number and ask to speak to their supervisor to confirm the info; if it’s a scam they will most likely hang up at this point and the number they give you will be bogus.
  • If the person is telling you that a loved one is in the hospital or jail, find out which one and contact the institution yourself to confirm.
  • If a loved one has recently passed away be wary; in some cases perpetrators have even preyed on victims by searching through the obituaries and calling surviving loved ones. If you get calls from people you don’t know soon after someone passes away, be careful and confirm it before you send any money.
  • In some cases someone will call and tell the victim that they’ve won money, but to “process the claim” they need to first send money. Beware this is most definitely a scam and don’t send any money – you should never have to pay money to claim a prize. If it seems too good to be true, it most likely is.
  • If there’s any doubt about a phone call/email/letter you’ve received contact the Sheriff’s Office before sending any money.
  • Scams tend to increase during the holiday season, be especially alert for them during those times.

It is very important to not send any money to anyone that you don’t know until you’ve confirmed the situation through an independent source and feel comfortable with it. If it’s a scam once the money is sent it’s very difficult, and most times impossible, to get it back. If anyone thinks they may have been the victim of a scam they are encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 845-486-3800 or via the tipline at 845-605-CLUE or dcsotips@gmail.com.