Craigslist

Routt County Facebook Groups Targeted by Scammers

A scammer tried to take advantage of a Routt County resident this summer with an overpayment check scam. The check was written for double the asking price and sent by US Postal Service priority mail. Law enforcement officials warn that all overpayments are scams.
Suzie Romig / Steamboat Pilot and Today

Sergeant Sam Silva of the Steamboat Springs Police Department’s best advice is “don’t click, hang up, delete, and block.”

Indeed, any technological platform connected to the Internet can be a paradise for scammers who wish to take advantage of unwitting individuals, whether it is a dating site or a local Facebook group. Online scams have “increased dramatically since COVID happened,” Silva said.

If Yampa Valley residents reported all potential scam attempts on the Internet or by cell phone, law enforcement would be inundated with thousands of situations, Silva said. Since the vast majority of scammers come from outside the country, law enforcement has little recourse, he said.



“We won’t open the case and investigate if there is no loss,” Silva said. “Just because you get one (communication) and realize it’s a scam, we’re not going to report on it because it’s so common.”

With advances in scammer technology and the pandemic that has resulted in high internet usage, fraud schemes have flourished.



According to a report According to the AARP BankSafe Initiative, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the rate of financial abuse of older adults has more than doubled.

Silva teaches common tips on how to avoid scammers during presentations available on demand. It warns if something is wrong with an Internet-related transaction, back off and stop communicating.

Following a vague communication on a Steamboat for sale Facebook page, a scammer called “Edna L” attempted a phishing SMS scam. Law enforcement officials warn against clicking on links in unsolicited text.
Suzie Romig / Steamboat Pilot and Today

Trying to fool the potential scammer doesn’t work either.

“The more you talk, the more likely they are to get information or scam you. Just hang up, delete or block,” Silva said.

Some red flags for identifying a potential scammer include spelling mistakes, incorrect English, vague or non-existent answers to questions, not agreeing to meet in person, or seeming unfamiliar with the area. Still, scammers can use the trick of naming a local hotel, Silva said, because that information is easy to find.


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Scammers can request payments through less secure or untraceable means such as gift cards, cashier’s checks, money orders, temporary prepaid payment cards, PayPal, or cash transfer apps such as Venmo.

Law enforcement officials say they are sticking to the familiar advice of meeting in person in a public place and negotiating in cash.

“It limits your customer base, but every time you ship, you risk not getting paid. Or if you buy and send money, there’s no guarantee you’ll get what they’re selling,” Silva said.

The well-known scams are still rampant in the Yampa Valley. Scammers use online dating sites to tell their supposed match that they want to meet but need money to allow them to travel. Checks are denominated above the asking price, then the sender of the check asks the recipient to return the overpaid money.

“Just because the check is accepted by the bank and shows it’s deposited doesn’t mean it’s real,” Silva noted, because scammers know banking processes can take days.

Scammers copy real housing ads from Craigslist to take advantage of people desperate for housing who then send in deposits. Even contacts made through well-established local Facebook groups or newspaper classifieds that also appear online can lead to scams.

“Thanks to (search) technology and the internet, they can reach anywhere,” Silva said.

According to the AARP report, attempts at “smishing,” or text phishing where criminals pretend to be legitimate businesses such as banks, increased 58% in the United States in 2021. , uses mobile phone technology to collect information. The report also showed a fivefold increase in losses from romance scams, with perpetrators stealing more than $547 million in 2021.

Patrol Sgt. Aaron Arsenault of the Routt County Sheriff’s Office said other red flags for online scams include items that look good but are priced too low or where a seller doesn’t know. not product details. Arsenault said he uses Facebook to sell or buy items, but he first clicks on the person’s Facebook profile to verify that it’s a legitimate local.

Sheriff’s Department officials advise if residents believe someone is trying to scam them, send a response such as, “I know it’s a scam, and I’ve reported you to the Routt County Sheriff’s Office. ” Then delete all messages and block the sender.

Silva warns against giving out personal addresses on the Internet. The police sergeant sells items through local Facebook groups, but first asks for the first and last name of the potential buyer and arranges a face-to-face meeting in public.

Many people may be embarrassed about being taken advantage of by scammers and don’t report the situation, Silva said. But if real property or money loss occurs, law enforcement officers will make an official report.



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